It is said that anything is possible if you have the mindset, the will and desire to put all your efforts to achieve your goal. But what if you are 14 years old, live in Africa, want to build a windmill in the village with no running water and electricity? Even these circumstances didn‘t stop William Kamkwamba from his dream to provide his family with running water, electricity and… happiness.
William‘s childhood was tough: he couldn‘t attend school because of a bad financial situation, became familiar with famine at the very early age and saw his own family suffering. He understood the need of a change, but he was not prepared to wait for politicians or aid groups to do it for him – it was just not enough time to sit and wait, even though that in 2002, when one of the Malawi‘s worst droughts killed thousands of people and left his family starved. So William began his work.
Unable to attend school, he kept visiting a local library day by day. He was literally fascinated by science but the break point was when he found out that windmill could make electricity and pump water. Then William thought to himself: maybe I should build one? These thoughts became a young boy’s project, which made him to look crazy. But, as it is said – good things happen outside your comfort zone, right? Ignoring villagers, he was quietly building his windmill: he knocked together a turbine from spare bicycle parts, a tractor fan blade and an old shock absorber, and fashioned blades from plastic pipes, flattened by being held over a fire. His final result seemed to be anything but a windmill but despite of this appearance, the villagers was shocked when William suddenly lighted a bulb using his windmill power. After this time, locals were queuing up to charge their mobile phones and his family was provided by running water and electricity.
His successful invention lead him to his life success: his story has turned him into a globetrotter. Later he became a student at the African Leadership Academy, an elite South African school for young leaders. Nowadays William is known as a „Boy who harnessed the Wind“ – this is exactly how his book is named. This extraordinary story shows that even when you have nothing, you still have the power to change the world.
written by Ieva Tilindyte, European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute
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