While stumbling upon the web, I came across the inspiring story of Malawi youth William Kamkwamba on Inhabitat. With all the doom and gloom news of climate change, William Kamkwamba’s ingenuity demonstrates what one person can do to improve their life with green technology. The story also demystifies alternative energy as complex engineering that keeps many Americans from jumping into finding greener methods to power their homes.
Malawi is a democratic, densely populated country in southeastern Africa. The Great Rift Valley runs through the center of the country from north to south. The GDP per capita is $596, and the economy is agricultural, and dependent upon tobacco, sugar, and tea; however, the staple of Malawi’s diet is maize. Many refugees from Mozambique, Rwanda, and Congo have fled to Malawi. One million people in Malawi live with HIV/AIDS. Malawi has been in entertainment news lately, as Madonna has been attempting to permanently adopt a Malawian child. Malawi youth William Kamkwamba’s story deserves media attention, too.
William Kamkwamba has built a windmill to power his home. Having dropped out of school because of a lack of funds, William studied donated books on wind power at his local primary school. Using salvage materials and investing about $16, he built his own windmill through trial and error. The original windmill could power a few light bulbs and a radio, as well as charge a car battery for days when the wind does not blow. According to Inhabitat,
The 12-meter tall windmill (it was originally only 5 meters) is made out of scrap timber. The blades, originally made from PVC, now steel, power a bicycle dynamo, the type that power a bicycle headlamp, which in turn provides electricity to the battery. William uses this energy for his house, as well as to help others recharge their batteries. Just recently, he moved from a car battery to a deep discharge battery, which will help improve with the power storage of his house.
William is now blogging about his experiences. William Kamkwamba’s Malawi Windmill Blog received 113,047 page views in its first month and is now translated to English. On his blog, you can read about his village, how he is spending the money people from the world are donating for his education and improvements for his village and family, his return to school, and the worldwide attention he has received. You can also view pictures of William. To donate to William, visit his blog. A generous donor will match donations of $50 or more.
William offers inspiration of how youth in less-privileged countries can improve their lives with materials on hand, rather than relying on the country’s infrastructure to build coal and oil power plants. William has used his ingenuity to improve his home with green technology. Perhaps he was not thinking of climate change when he set out with his project, but his story demonstrates how individuals can make a difference. I don’t suspect Americans will be erecting homemade windmills in their backyards out of scrap material, yet this story shows what power the youth have to solve our problems.
Wait… so we should all go build windwills from scrap, and this will save the world? We should all live in 3rd world huts, powered by a car battery? You first. You guys truly are idiots.
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg says
If you read all of Jennifer’s post, you’ll see clearly that she’s not suggesting anything like that, nor saying this is the way to save the world.
Might be a good idea to do that before you start calling names… you’re free to criticize, but please keep it civil.
Thanks for writing this article, and bringing attention to William’s site. He is changing the world and has a lot to teach all of us.
Jennifer Lance says
I did live in home powered by a car battery to run one DC light and car stereo for three years. There was no septic, and the bathtub was outside. The house was built by the original homesteaders and was heated by a barrel woodstove. It may have been California and not Malawi, but it was primitive.
I don’t propose William’s windmill saves the world, but it changes his world. I think that when third world countries look for ways to improve their lives and live more like the first world, they do not need to resort to unclean sources of power.