As I mentioned before, I am currently reading the Harry Potter series. I have finished the Order of the Phoenix and after two of the longest books in the series I decided to take a break and read a book I saw on The Daily Show ( is it strange that I get a lot of my world "news" from that show, and that show keeps me some what connected to what is going on?) Anyways, I record The Daily Show on my computer every night and once in a while I will watch a couple episodes in a row.
One night when I was watching Jon Stewart do what he does, he announced that a 21 year old man from Africa, William Kamkwamba was his guest for that show. I never heard of this guy but I continued watching anyway, and I'm so glad I did.
It turns out that when William was 14 years old in Malawi, Africa he did something that would transform his village of Wimbe and his life forever. His family farmed in the village and with the new president in power farmers were no longer subsidized making it more expensive to buy maize, along with a drought that occurred in the early 2000s, the village and country were going through a famine. William was on his way to secondary school to continue his education he enjoyed thoroughly. His father couldn't afford the 80 dollars a year tuition for secondary school so William had to drop out.
Instead of going home and sitting around all day doing nothing, William went to the village library that was supported by American funds, and read books about physics and electricity, things that have fascinated him since he was a small boy. In a book named, Exploring Physics, he read about a windmill and learned how the windmill can harness the wind to produce electricity (just like a bike dynamo produces light when a person pedals). With
the diagram in the book William used parts from his home and a scrapyard near by to build his own windmill at the age of 14. His first windmill was able to light four bulbs in his parent's house and power two radios.
He was discovered by Americans that came to the country to see how their library was holding up. From there everything changed. He was invited to be a TEDster, at the annual TED conference in 2007 in Angola. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/william_kamkwamba_on_building_a_windmill.html
He has been all over the continent of Africa for schooling and all over the United States visiting people he met on the way. He is currently a student in Johannesburg, South Africa at the African Leadership Academy, and would like to attend a university in the states.
His story, to me, is one that I wish we heard about happening in the United States, because I believe we are missing that type of drive and innovation. We don't have as many kids that want to be scientists or mathematicians as we used to when we were a growing triumphant nation.
Not only did he build a windmill, but in the book you get a look into his life and how he was always interested in how things worked and didn't fully believe in the "magic" that explained events in Africa. He fully understood how to make a circuit breaker, the difference between AC and DC, and so much more that I didn't have the faintest idea about when I was 14.
This book is truly inspirational to anyone who reads it. If you want to learn more about William and his ventures, here are some links: