William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba—The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Adversity can do one of two things to a person. It can defeat them or it can make them stronger and help them to discover solutions to the problems plaguing their life. William Kamkwamba was a teenager during a period of desperate drought in his country of Malawi. Drought destroyed the countries crops. His parents could no longer afford to send William to school. Instead of despair, William Kamkwamba decided he would continue to study so he would be prepared to reenter school when the time came. Visiting the small library in his village he began to study the photos and diagrams of windmills in English science books. From scraps and any materials he could scrounge, William built a windmill—a windmill that worked and brought electricity to his family. Word of his ingenuity and drive brought both educators and journalists to his small village. William was offered a place in a special school for young African leaders and he was chosen to be a TED Global Fellow.

In March 2013 William Kamkwamba delivered an inspiring presentation brought to the community by A Walk in Their Shoes. The following day William spoke with over 1,200 middle and high school students telling them to follow their dreams, even if those around them think they are crazy. His education at Dartmouth College will help William continue his work in rural economic development in Malawi.