Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind

At the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference this week at Oxford, William Kamkwamba shared his story of innovation as a farmer in Malawi. After their family’s crop failure in 2001, Mr. Kamkwamba could no longer afford to go to school. However, at age 14, after reading about windmills that could generate electricity, he decided to build one to help his family. Even though he did not have the usual materials, he improvised using a tractor fan, shock absorber, PVC pipes and a bicycle frame. The first model he built was strong enough to run one light bulb, but a second version was sufficient for four light bulbs. Mr. Kamkwamba, who is now 19, shared his message at the TED conference, "Trust in yourself and believe. Never give up." To learn more about his story, look for his book, The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, which will be published in September.