09 November 2009

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Brian Mealer is a no-holds-barred look at a life of poverty, dreams and tenacity.

In the beginning of the story, William is considered crazy by neighbors and others, and only his friends stand by him (one even funds his inventions). By the end, William has redeemed their investment tenfold - financially, of course, but even more so by improving their lives far beyond their expectations.

William and his family and his nation survive terrible hardship and famine in the course of his life, and he is unstinting in describing the horrors of starvation to the reader. The scene where his poor old dog Khamba dies is worthy of comparison with the story of Ol' Yeller, and to me far more gut wrenching. William is forced at one point to withdraw from school as he lacks the tuition money; but not before he spends 2 weeks basically cutting *into* class to try and stay to learn.  But being forced out of school has an up-side; in an attempt to keep up, William begins self-study at the library, finds a book describing how to make a windmill, and then he begins to scavenge parts and supplies from the local dump with which to build one.  And it works.

The story isn't ended by any means: William Kamkwamba has a blog, and his ingenuity and entrepreneurship is blossoming now that he is gaining resources to finish his educaton and challenge himself to see what he can do next.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]