A Windmill That Saves a Village

Friday, October 02, 2009

In 2002, teenaged William Kamkwamba had a vision in the very poor African nation of Malawi: A little bicycle generator that powers a light, if connected to a windmill, could allow him to read his schoolbooks at night. As he went further with his plans, he began to see how such a windmill might actually bring the 20th century to his own village. Out this week is "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," a book that tells Kamkwamba's story. We talked with William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, the book's co-authors.

“He didn’t have washers, so he would go collect bottle caps, beer bottle caps, in front of the bar and flatten them out and put a hole through the middle. He didn’t have a drill, so he would use a nail and heat it over his mom’s cooking fire, that he would bore holes through this plastic ... His cousin found a car battery so he was able to hook the windmill up to a car battery, charge it and then power four more bulbs which he ran through a circuit breaker system that he made out of nails and wire and a magnet that he busted out of a stereo speaker. And it worked.”
—Bryan Mealer, co-author of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” on how William made the windmill


William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

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