Thursday, 3 April 2014

Stories of hope - The boy who harnessed the wind

There are stories that make me moved to tears and fill me with hope for the future and humanity. An example of this is the story of an African hero, a genius - William Kamkwamba - the boy who harnessed the wind.

Photo: William Kamkwamba private

Two of my students brought this wonderful story the other day. Their teacher had given them as a task to read about his life in English and tell the story in the classroom . I am very thankful that I also got to know about this story in this way.Together we read and watched videos online.

Who is then William Kambkwamb ? William is a young inventor from Malawi in Africa. When he was 14, he had to stop attending school. It cost about 80 dollars a year to study and his family could not afford the fee. He returned to his family's farm in the poor village Masitala . William loved to read and wanted  to learn. He missed school and the education so much that he often went to the library where he read as much as he could, especially about Science.

In 2002 there was a terrible drought , and thousands of people died around William. Also William and his family suffered from famine. He became thinner and thinner together with his parents and six sisters. His parents could only afford to give the children a small portion of maize porridge a day . William had read books about windmills that could produce electricity so he decided to build one. He went to a scrapyard and started collecting broken items.During the day, William worked on the farm with his family. Every evening, he worked on his windmill.  It took him two months to build a windmill of broken bikes , tractors and other materials he found. The habitants of the vllage laughed at him, and even his mother thought he had gone mad .

But when he put a light bulb in the windmill it lit up everyone present started clapping hands and laughing. His family has had electric power at home since that day. People started queuing outside the family's home to use the electricity. Then he built more windmills that also pumped water. The 14 -year-old William probably saved many in his village from dying of starvation.

Journalists and bloggers started coming and William was invited to Tanzania to tell his story. The audience was very moved and he was invited to continue his studies in the United States. William got a scholarship to continue studying and has since then created more windmills around his home village but also other green energy sources.

Together with Bryan Mealor William wrote the book "The boy who harnessed the wind" , which eventually also became a children's book . The books soon became bestsellers .

William continues to help his homeland and his ambition is that everyone in Malawi will have water and electricity. He travels around and tells his story . I like showing videos of him to my young pupils. " Believe in yourselves ! Never give up , no matter what happens ! " are important messages that he gives to his audience. 

Time magazine nominated William as one of 30 people under 30 who have changed the world .

William, I am your fan . Go, go, go ! I believe in you! Thank you for being a fantastic inspiration to all of us , but especially to the youngsters of today .


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