After facing nearly insurmountable challenges of famine and poverty, William Kamkwamba saved his Malawian community by constructing a homemade windmill out of junkyard material.

Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, who co-authored the book, "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope," addressed a crowd of nearly 100 students and community members in the McCormick Tribune Center on Friday. The speech, sponsored by the Global Engagement Summit, focused on Kamkwamba's struggle as a victim of the Malawian famine of 2002.

When the famine struck, Kamkwamba had planned to enter high school. Even as he and his family survived on three mouthfuls of food a day, he continued to walk to his local library to study physics and electromagnetics.

The famine, Kamkwamba said, was a "sad time" for him until, inspired by a windmill design he saw in a library book, he decided to build one to provide drinkable water for his village of Wimbe. 

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