This Boy Built an Electricity-Producing Windmill from Scrap


What did you do when you were 14 years old?

Not many of us can say we’ve achieved something significant when we were still starting out as teenagers. We were probably in love with the cutest person in class or won in the math fair back then. Not much of an accomplishment compared to what William Kamkwamba did to help power his family’s home.

While we were safely tucked in our warm beds in a well-lit room, William was one of those kids who had to deal with poverty and a rough environment with no electricity.

Source: WilliamKamkwamba via YouTube

So at the age of 14, this young boy from Malawi decided to build an electricity-producing windmill using scrap and spare parts he found. This would have been impossible for someone who was forced to leave school because his family could no longer afford the tuition fee. But William was motivated to help his family and by reading a library book called Using Energy, he was able to work on his plans and eventually built the said windmill.  It’s amazing how one windmill built by a young boy managed to power four lights and two radios in his family’s house.

The materials he used to build the windmills include bicycle parts, a plastic pipe, blue gum trees and different materials from the local scrapyard.

William was heard all over the international community when his story was published in a book entitled The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. Together with journalist Bryan Mealer and Elizabeth Zunon (who provided the pictures for the book), people all over the world were able to read his inspiring story on how one’s determination and creativity can help make a difference to many people.

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Source: WilliamKamkwamba via YouTube

After receiving international fame, he was invited to talk about his story in the TEDGlobal Conference. The even director, Emeka Okafor, searched for William for several weeks. After William shared his story on the said event, he was able to receive several support from different members of the TED community. They helped hi improve the power system he was developing by incorporating solar energy in his work. They also helped him by offering him mentorships and an opportunity to further his studies by attending school again.

He later became a student at the African Bible College Christian Academy, then, in the African Leadership Academy where he received a scholarship. In 2014, he was able to receive his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College. He was also chosen to be part of Time magazine’s “30 People Under 30 Changing The World back in 2013.

Now at the age of 29, he was able to work on several projects that focused on different important issues such as malaria prevention, clean water and solar power and lighting that was provided for the six homes in his family compound. He also developed a drip irrigation system and a deep-water well that uses a solar-powered pump to collect water.

His story has inspired thousands of people to be creative and to be resourceful. William’s story shows us that age or one’s lack of education should not limit us of achieving different goals and how one man can make a difference.

Source: TED via YouTube

Article Sources

William Kamkwamba WebsiteTEDWikipedia
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Ninez Hernandez
A sensitive flirt, an awkward tease and a metallurgical engineer, surprisingly.

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This Boy Built an Electricity-Producing Windmill from Scrap

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