Take Part.com, September 18, 2009: An Interview with the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
guardian.co.uk PDA The Digital Content Blog: TEDGlobal: Building a Windmill in Africa from Scrap
BBC News, July 23, 2009: The winds of change for Africa
Metaefficient: The Guide to Highly Efficient Things, May 11, 2009: Is This The World’s Most Efficient Windmill?
The Wall Street Journal December 12, 2007 page A1: A Young Tinkerer Builds a Windmill, Electrifying a Nation.
I love that title. It makes me think of a fairy tale. The kind where humans turn into animals that belong somewhere other than here, like the sea or sky. Or the kind where a long journey has to be taken because someone is born into the wrong life. It conjures old-timey illustrations of grimacing men in top hats with long faces becoming vapour and terrorizing small villages until a child traps them inside of a butterfly net with magic words given by a self-sacrificing healer. You know… folk tales.But instead, it’s the title of a book co-authored by William Kamkwamba, a boy from an African village who, with little education, and little knowledge of English, looked at books about windmills and built one based on the diagrams — and then made it conduct electricity. Impressed? So was Jon Stewart during the taping of The Daily Show (which I went to thanks to Martha) and boy it was a real treat. William Kamkwambe was inspiring and down-to-earth. Jon Stewart even re-shot his intro to make it shorter so that there would be more of the interview in the episode. That’s when I fell in love with him, not during the beginning when he makes jokes, and talks to the audience, not even when he was visibly cracking up while watching one of his “reporters” skits on bling recession. But when he did extra work to make sure something important had more air time. Something about sitting through 40 mph wind tunnels made getting into the show more magical. Like some epic test passed, a riddle answered correctly to a troll under the bridge who grants us passage to a place we’ve only dreamed of. -Kastoory
Mr Kamkwamba, who is now 22 years old, 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…
I sent a friend in Malawi a BBC News link about a young Malawian, William Kamkwamba, who had supplied his village with electricity by building a windmill out of junk. You might think that this is fairly common by now. Not in Malawi. Kamkwamba worked it out for himself and built it. He is now on a scholarship at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, where it turns out that my friend had met him. A book has been published about him. Here is his blog. Here is his photostream on Flickr.
Throughout history there have been many times when people have took it upon themselves to harness the power of nature (usually wind and river) in order to pump water or run millstones. By doing so with the resources at hand, the works are crafted painstakingly over time with care and attention to detail. They are organic. They are beautiful. They are no less than works of art.
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The United States is also richly endowed. In addition to having enough land-based wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs several times over, the National Renewable Energy Lab has identified 1,000 gigawatts (1 gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts) of wind energy waiting to be tapped off the East Coast and 900 gigawatts off the West Coast. This offshore capacity alone is sufficient to power the U.S. economy. Europe is already tapping its off-shore wind. An assessment by the Garrad Hassan wind energy consulting group concluded that if governments aggressively develop their vast off-shore resources, wind could supply all of Europe’s residential electricity by 2020.
His native Malawi had gone through one of its worst droughts seven years ago, killing thousands. His family and others were surviving on one meal a day. The red soil in his Masitala hometown was parched, leaving his father, a farmer, without any income.
About 3 years ago the story about the Malawian boy, William Kamkwamba, that rose to fame because he built windmills out of literally waste was circulated all over the internet. Since then he has spoken at TED and with many media outlets. Since his first windmills, he has built four more, and is now speakign at many shows, conferences, and this week will be on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
So I wrote this blog posting earlier today… because I can’t blog from work, I emailed it to myself to post this evening…Dear World,I wish for more ‘news’ stories like this: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/10/05/malawi.wind.boy/index.html where a 14 year old boy in Africa has the vision and drive to power his poor, draught affected village with wind power from windmills built from scraps of a junkyard, made with a screwdriver built from a corn cob and metal that ultimately supplies enough electricity and water for his entire village! What a truly wonderful story. Wow, what a kid. Seriously, 14 years old, he worked hard because he had a vision, his village-mates called him names, even his family thought he was crazy. He had to drop of out of school because his family, farmers who had no crops because there was no rain or water, could not afford his tuition of $80/year. That’s amazing.Gosh, I wish to hear news stories that are less about violence across the oceans and in our back yards and more about hope, drive and love. I wish for a news channel to actually do reporting to find GOOD news, not news that sensationalizes mistakes made or weird creepy humans. I wish for a world where those weird creepy humans do not exist or a website that provides news without mentioning them. Call it ignorance, call it living in a bubble, call it what you want, I wish either those people and things don’t exist or that I didn’t have to hear about them.Sincerely,ColleenSo I come home, check my email and waddya know? I get a polite little email from www.goodreads.com suggesting a book I might enjoy. It’s called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating currents of Electricity and Hope I KID YOU NOT! It is the exact story I wrote about earlier today! Yes, and it’s a book. And for those of you who know the books I love, this is right up my alley- takes place in Africa (or China), person down on their luck, finds someone or something to live for and has a pleasant ending! What I want to know is, how did they do that? How did Goodreads know how much I loved this story on CNN.com today? Just amazing. Here’s a synopsis of the book (don’t worry, Bookclub, I won’t choose this one but I can’t wait to read it myself):William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, Africa, a country plagued by AIDS and poverty. Like most people in his village, his family subsisted on the meager crops they could grow, living without the luxuries—consider necessities in the West—of electricity or running water. Already living on the edge, the situation became dire when, in 2002, Malawi experienced the worst famine in 50 years. Struggling to survive, 14-year-old William was forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford the $80-a-year tuition. Though he was not in a classroom, William continued to think, learn—and dream. Armed with curiosity, determination, and a library book he discovered in a nearby library, he embarked on a daring plan—to build a windmill that could bring his family the electricity only two percent of Malawians could afford. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and blue-gum trees, William forged a crude yet working windmill, an unlikely hand-built contraption that would successfully power four light bulbs and two radios in his family’s compound. Soon, news of his invention spread, attracting interest and offers of help from around the world. Not only did William return to school but he and was offered the opportunity to visit wind farms in the United States, much like the ones he hopes to build across Africa. A moving tale of one boy’s struggle to create a better life, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is William’s amazing story—a journey that offers hope for the lives of other Africans—and the whole world, irrefutably demonstrating that one individual can make a difference.
Hope. In times of despair and hopelessness, where do we find hope? At age 14, a boy in the country of Malawi (in Africa), named William Kamkwamba, living during a desperate time of poverty and famine, found hope. He found it, in a library. Forced to dropout of school because his family could not afford the fees, William sought a place to learn in an attempt to keep up with his peers, who were still able to attend school. What he found was not just book knowledge, but hope for his family and village. Reading a book on science, he learned how it was possible to use the wind to generate electricity and then actually set about trying to build what he saw in the book. Using a tractor fan, shock absorbers, PVC pipes, a bicycle frame and other things he found in a scrapyard, he made a simple, yet functioning windmill. When local villagers saw him attaching the contraption to the top of a 16 foot wooden tower he built with the help of friends, they gathered around to see if he had actually succeeded. He did and he went from being a “crazy” person to a local hero. Now he is a worldwide hero. I have just about finished reading a book he cowrote with author Bryan Mealer called “the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”. I have never read a more accurate, yet inspiring account of daily life in the poorer parts of Africa. In my travels to Kenya for Go and Do Likewise, I have seen the same despair mixed with the same wonderful ingenuity, passion and hard work. William’s account has re-inspired me to continue with renewed vigor, the hard work of raising funds for the organization I serve with, Go and Do Likewise, and it’s sister organization in Kenya, GAD Kenya. There is hope for the people in Africa, in Kenya. This world can be changed or in the case of William, a family and a village can be changed. In this case, the change occurred because someone or some organization, helped build and supply a library. The library where William spent hours upon hours reading, learning and dreaming. I want to do the same thing for the village of Rionchogu, Kenya. Build and supply a library. Perhaps you’d like to help. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk. I’ll be traveling there in March of 2010, with a few others with the same passion to make a difference, one boy or one book at a time. I hope you will pick up a copy of William’s book. If you live near me, I’ll loan you my copy. Or, take a few minutes and watch one of the 2 videos below, that tell a little about his wonderful story. Eaar
This morning we had an author fishbowl session at work. William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer stopped by to promote their new bestseller, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope “
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Chinwuba Lyizoba | Tuesday, 6 October 2009
In Africa, it seems that everything is yet to be done. Last week, the BBC ran a report about a young Malawian boy who invented a windmill. William Kamkwamba was forced to drop out of school because his parents couldn’t pay $80 a year for his schooling. But he did not loose hope. Instead he educated himself using a local library.