Picture this. You’re a 14-year-old boy from Africa and you’ve just got kicked out of school because you couldn’t pay $80 in school fees. What do you do?
Considering you don’t have a lot of money to spend, and your country severely lacks natural resources, you don’t have a lot of options. But here’s just a guess: you most likely won’t end up inventing a windmill that powers your entire village.
But that’s exactly what William Kamkwamba did.
After getting booted from the classroom, Kamkwamba headed straight for the library, where a book with photographs of windmills caught his eye.
“I thought, this thing exists in this book, it means someone else managed to build this machine,” he said.
Armed with the book, the then-14-year-old taught himself to build windmills. He scoured through junkyards for items, including bicycle parts, plastic pipes, tractor fans and car batteries. For the tower, he collected wood from blue-gum trees.
“Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was building a windmill. They thought I was crazy,” he said. “Then I started telling them I was just playing with the parts. That sounded more normal.”
That was 2002. Now, he has five windmills, the tallest standing 37 feet.
The windmills generate electricity and pump water in his hometown, north of the capital, Lilongwe. Neighbors regularly trek across the dusty footpaths to his house to charge their cellphones. Others stop by to listen to Malawian reggae music blaring from a radio.
This just goes to show that as long you have perseverance and passion, truly anything is possible.
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