Everything was running short in the poor village of Malawi. Only the wind was left there blowing through the dead fields and the parched red soil. William Kamkwamba dreamed of powering his village with this wind, the only resource that was freely available to him. It has been 7 years since Malawi suffered one of the worst droughts, and now 5 of his windmills generates electricity and pumps water in his hometown, north of the capital, Lilongwe. The drought in 2002 left his father, a farmer, without any income, and Kamkwamba was kicked out of school when he couldn't pay his school fees.
He spent his days at the library, where a book with photographs of windmills caught his eye."I thought, this thing exists in this book, it means someone else managed to build this machine," he said. -I wish I had the same feelings when I was younger.
He looked for items he could use to build a windmill from the junkyards, including bicycle parts, plastic pipes, tractor fans and car batteries. For the tower, he collected wood from blue-gum trees. "Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was building a windmill. They thought I was crazy," he said.
Villagers would surround him while he quietly bolt pieces using a screwdriver made of a heated nail attached to a corncob. Three months later, his first windmill churned to life as relief swept over him. As the blades whirled, a bulb attached to the windmill flickered on. No one is going to think he is crazy anymore, he gave a sigh of relief after his success.
He has made 5 windmills in the past 7 years; the tallest of them is 11 meters high. He also built one at an area school that he used to teach classes on how to build windmills. Neighbors regularly trek across the dusty footpaths to his house to charge their cell phones, or listen to the radio.
A lot of environmental organizations and groups around the world praised his challenge, including former U.S. president Al Gore.