Sunday, October 6, 2013
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Michael Kamkwamba
Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi's top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family's farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the eighty-dollar-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.
Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach, a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessity—electricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.
Soon, news of William's magetsi a mphepo—his "electric wind"—spread beyond the borders of his home, and the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world.
Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him."
There's not much to be said about this book that hasn't been said by the blurb, but I'll interject real quick: this was really fascinating and interesting, and quite eye-opening to read. It gives you a new level of understanding of lives in Africa; over the first two-thirds of the book simply chronicle his life growing up in Malawi. Really compelling and completely new. If you're interested at all in other cultures, read this. You won't regret it (I even cried once. The writing's straightforward but gets to the heart of things). It's at Kettleson, SHS, and MEHS.