Thursday, July 19, 2007

William Kamkwamba - An Inspiration to All

I discovered an amazing human being today. His name is William Kamkwamba and according to Grist Magazine I am way behind the power curve. Maybe you already know about William and his Do It Yourself windmill that powers his parents home and charges car batteries and cellphones for his neighbors and relatives.

If you are like me and didn't know about William, the super-intelligent 19 year old from Malawi, then prepare to be humbled and inspired by his efforts to gain an education, learn everything he can about passive/efficient energy sources, and take the internet by storm.

Well, in all sincerity, I don't know if he actually MEANT to take the internet by storm but that's what's happened. It was only a few months ago when he was introduced to the World Wide Web for the first time, after being invited to attend the TEDGlobal conference in Southern Africa. Not long after, he began Googling words like solar power, wind power, and crop rotation. How many young men would have go straight for the porn or youtube?

Not William. Maybe later when he's satisfied his thrist for knowledge but for now girls and mindless distractions seem to be the last things on his mind. After dropping out of school at 14 because his family had no money to send him to secondary school, he has returned to the classroom through the hard work of mentors he met at the conference. He will be attending a different school next month that is primarily reserved for the children of Christian missionaries.

Almost immediately, after gaining somewhat regular access to the internet and with some coaching by his mentor, Tom Rielly from TEDGlobal, William started a blog on It's called William Kamkwamba's Malawi Windmill Blog.

On his blog he laid out the design for his windmill step by step with photos of the construction process. He quickly gained mass media coverage and now his blog has received 113,000 page views with 64,000 on one day alone. You can follow his life and acheivements as he works on other innovations to help his community. Find out how his is using the generous donations that have come his way due to the media attention. So far he's bought supplies to improve his windmill design, essential items for his family like soap and laundry detergent, and a sanitary drinking water dispenser.

I am left speechless when I think about this young man from such an impoverished country. He has every reason to give up but yet he is part of a new breed of Africans. They are called cheetahs and they are out to make a difference on their continent. No more waiting for their government to get it's act together or for aid workers to save the day. William is saving himself, his family and his village.

Now what excuse can possibly I come up with for not achieving my goals? Any would be a joke in the face of William Kamkwamba's example.


Vienne said...

Wonderful story. Inspiring young man and very uplifting blog. Vienne

Lisa McGlaun said...

I think so too, Vienne. Now my husband wants to build a windmill in our back yard. I guess that's better than a rocket....LOL...see my post about Astronaurt Farmer.