The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind And Brought Hope To His Village

An extraordinary story of a Malawian boy who transformed his village by building electric windmills out of spare parts and scrap.

william kamkwamba

29-year old William Kamkwamba was named one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing The World” by TIME magazine in 2013. A TEDx speaker and a Dartmouth College graduate, William’s extraordinary story of grit and determination is what makes it so inspirational.

William Kamkwamba

At the age of 14, William Kamkwamba, a Malawian teenager had to drop out of school due to his family’s financially unsound condition. Dejected yet undeterred, William continued to visit a local library in order to keep himself updated.

And that’s where he discovered his love for science and electronics. One day he saw a picture of a windmill in a book which fascinated him greatly.

“I was very interested when I saw the windmill could make electricity and pump water”, Mr. Kamkwamba told the BBC News website. 

Furthermore, he thought, “That could be a defence against hunger. Maybe I should build one for myself.”

The idea had taken root in young William’s mind and so he obsessively worked over his new project whenever he had free time from working at his family’s maize farm.

“Many, including my mother, thought I was going crazy,” he recalls. “They had never seen a windmill before.”

But like they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and scraps, William finished his own 5 metres (16 feet) long windmill which he then used to power a light bulb. And soon enough the whiz kid’s 12-watt wonder was pumping power into his family’s mud-brick compound.


Before long, William’s neighbours who were perplexed at his obsession were now queuing up to charge their mobile phones from his windmill.

Though still being unable to join the school, William continued to improve on his prototype. And 4 years later in 2006, he catapulted to international fame when a reporter from the Daily Times newspaper wrote an article about him.

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.

In 2007, he got the first supply of drinking water for his village when he built a solar-powered water pump. It was in the same year he was invited for a TEDx conference in Tanzania where his story won the hearts of the audience.  Check out his inspirational story in his own words below!

His TEDx speech marked a major change in his life with several venture capitalists coming forth to help finance his secondary education. After studying at the African Bible College Christian Academy, William won a scholarship to the African Leadership Academy and eventually graduated from Dartmouth College, USA. Today he continues to bring power and hope to his village, community, and country.

What a mind blowing man!

If he inspired you, don’t forget to share his story with others! 🙂


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Aparna Ghildiyal
I’m a true blue gypsy at heart. YES is my buzzword. Planning a travel adventure? You can always count me in. Treat me to good food, and you can be my friend forever. Fashion has been my guilty pleasure ever since I was a little girl who loved poring over the sparkling jewels and opulent gowns of Disney princesses. Keeping fit and showing love to my body is what keeps me feeling good. I LOVE those looooong discussions and stimulating experiences concerning spirituality, religion, and things beyond – the explorer in me is forever fascinated by these. A neuroscientist-turned-writer-turned-online marketer, my little 5-year-old career has seen me wearing multiple hats. In my world, there are no rules chiefly because I ain’t got no motivation to make or break ‘em.

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