Monday, October 5, 2009

William Kamkwamba: "They Thought I was Crazy."

Like many people growing up in the forgotten parts of the world, William Kamkwamba, a citizen of Malawi born in 1989, had a dream and nothing else.

In his hometown of Masitala, the red soil was infertile leaving his father, a farmer, with no income and 7 kids. Kamkwamba lived in abject poverty and everything including food was scarce. His family survived on one meal a day and he wanted to do something to help. Despite all the shortages in his hometown, one thing was in abundance - the wind.

In 2001, Kamkwamba dropped out of school because he could not pay the $80 that was required in school fees. This did not break him. Rather, it signaled a turning point in his life. Dropping out of school was a future he could not accept, hence he retired to the library where he read borrowed books. He mostly read books on Physics. Despite the fact that he could not read much of the english in the books, he studied the diagrams and was attracted to photographs of windmills.

At the age of 14, he taught himself how to build windmills and began building his first windmill, ignoring rumors that he was crazy. He collected bicycle parts, plastic pipes and car batteries from scrap yards. He collected wood from trees for the windmill tower. Many people, including his mother thought he was bewitched.

"Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was building a windmill. They thought I was crazy," he said.

Amid all the challenges, Kamkwamba built his first windmill which initially powered one light and he later added more lights, a circuit breaker and switches. The windmills generate electricity and pump water in his home town.

When all was said and done, neighbors, including those who thought he was crazy and bewitched, started queuing up at his house to charge their cellphones and use electricty.

"I wanted to finish it just to prove them wrong," he said. "I knew people would then stop thinking I was crazy."

Kamkwamba William has gone from an obscure kid in a small village in Malawi to travelling the world, sharing his experience with entrepreneurs and being applauded by advocates of green living including Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Kamkwamba's message to people like him is clear: "Trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up."

Below is a video about Kamkwamba William. Endeavor to watch the video, get inspired and inspire others.

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