Self-educated Malawi Boy Builds Windmills out of Junk

William Kamkwamba, a teenage boy in Malawi, saw a photo of a windmill in a textbook at the library and decided that if he could build one it would be useful to his village.
Mr Kamkwamba, who is now 22 years old, knocked together a turbine from spare bicycle parts, a tractor fan blade and an old shock absorber, and fashioned blades from plastic pipes, flattened by being held over a fire...

Soon the whiz kid's 12-watt wonder was pumping power into his family's mud brick compound...

Out went the paraffin lanterns and in came light bulbs and a circuit breaker, made from nails and magnets off an old stereo speaker, and a light switch cobbled together from bicycle spokes and flip-flop rubber.

Before long, locals were queuing up to charge their mobile phones...

Meanwhile, he installed a solar-powered mechanical pump, donated by well-wishers, above a borehole, adding water storage tanks and bringing the first potable water source to the entire region around his village.

He upgraded his original windmill to 48-volts and anchored it in concrete after its wooden base was chewed away by termites.

Jude Sheerin's story at the BBC has more details about the life of this remarkable young man, who is now the subject of a new book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.


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The boy in this post used to be my nieghbor. I really don't know if he reads this, but if he does, William do you remember a man named David Lewis I'm his daughter, Bethany. We all want you to know that we are very proud and we miss you. Thank you for being there for the village when we couldn't be.
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Saw him on the Daily Show tonight. John Stewart also compared him to Mcguyver.

He wasnt bullied in school(he had to drop out at 14 because it cost too much) but his village did call him crazy and accuse him of smoking too much marijuana :) He recently went back to school on a scholarship and is studying for the SATs
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Resourceful kid. I like it when people in tough situations refuse to allow their misfortune stop them. :)
When I see pictures of people living on top of landfills rumaging through trash to survive... I think to myself, if that were me, I'd be like the kid in this post. I'd be making my situation better out of all that junk. I'd be tying bits and pieces together, melting plastic, inventing the things I needed from clothes (from rewoven/reclaimed fibers) to furniture. I'd be doing all sorts of crazy stuff to make my situation better.
This is also the reason why I'm pretty sure I'll never need money or be homeless (in my current situation). I am endlessly resourceful, and when I want extra cash, places like ETSY becomes my friend. I love upcycling crafts. :)
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