Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Creating Currents of Electricity & Hope (2009)

This autobiography was written by William Kamkwamba with Bryan Mealer. William is a young man who lived with his family on a farm in Malawi. He completed the state sponsored primary school and was looking forward to attending secondary school when his country felt the devastating effects of a drought. With all of his family's savings gone to buy food necessary for his family to survive, he could only go to the library where he studied books. He thought that he would try to keep up and be able to rejoin classes at a later time. His favorite subject was science, in particular, physics. While reading the section of the book on electricity he started to design a wind generator so his family could have light at night.

William gives us a view of his day-to-day life as well as introducing us to his family and friends. We also see how his family exists from crop to crop and when they have a poor season, how the entire country suffers. We see how civilization breaks down when there is no food and how governments in third world countries like Malawi increase the suffering with rampant political corruption.

This bright young man fashioned his windmill using parts of machinery left in scrap yards. He gets his light working and then works on improvements such as a brake to stop the rotors when the wind was too high and a circuit breaker so his make shift wiring wouldn't cause a fire in the thatched roof.

His work was finally brought to light when people visiting his village school's library noticed the structure and reported it to their superior. After he saw it with his own eyes he told the national radio station about it. Since then, William has visited England and the United States and has become a spokesman, not only of wind power, but also HIV/AIDS.

This book is a true inspiration and a testament to the benefits of an education.

My rating for this book: ++++

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