Monday, October 5, 2009

Boy Power

I was going to write about the boy who shot an alligator. Then I found this newsclip online: "Never having heard the term 'green energy,' an African boy unknowingly brought ancient, and at the same time, leading edge technology to his family's small subsistence farm."

I was intrigued.

Now, having learned the story of William Kamkwamba, I am impressed.

Kamkwamba was a fourteen-year-old boy in Malawi when his family ran out of money to send him to school -- because their maize crop failed. So Kamkwamba, unwilling to end his education, visited the public library in his spare time, checking out books and reading them by lamplight after his chores were done.

He stumbled upon the idea of windmills, and learned they could be used to generate electricity and pump water. A windmill, he thought, might help the farm. So this "uneducated" fourteen-year-old boy set out to build a windmill, with no money, no mentors and no materials.

He scavenged the local junkyard and eventually built his windmill. He experimented, added on and soon had the first source of potable water in his village.

Kamkwamba, now 19, was recently invited to speak at the Technology, Education and Design (TED) conference in England -- for the second time. His message? "Trust in yourself and believe. Never give up."

I'll tweak that message: Parents of boys, trust in your sons and believe. William Kamkwamba's mother thought he was "crazy," but she didn't stop her son. Ultimately, she gave him enough freedom, space and support so that he could construct his windmill. And look what he's done!


  1. What an inspiring story! I just found your blog and am intrigued. I have three boys and one more on the way. They sure do keep you busy don't they!