"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

by William Kamkwambaand Bryan Mealer

If you're every having a bad day and you feel like complaining (like I was a few days ago when my teeth hurt from yet another orthodontic adjustment), read this book instead and then see how you feel.  This book will put your life into perspective and make you extremely grateful for the troubles you face.  Yet it also is a very hopeful and inspiring story about a young man who doesn't let his circumstances hold him back from making what he wants of his life.

William Kamkwamba is a kid who lives in Malawi Africa, in what much of the world would consider poverty circumstances.  As a young child he becomes interested in science, specifically electricity and wind power, and dreams of being able to have electricity in his own home.  He also dreams of being able to pump water so that his family can grow extra crops when the dry season comes.  He cannot afford to stay in school so he begins to teach himself about how electricity works, and then experiment on what he learns.  And without any formal schooling, scrounging for parts in junk yards, he builds his own a windmill and installs electricity into his family's home.  

Beyond this already amazing story, the book begins with the story of his early life, specifically a terrifying account of how he and his family barely survive a terrible famine.  This was the part that really put my puny troubles into perspective, and made me so thankful that we are blessed with an abundances of the basic necessities of life.  So many of us have excuses for why we don't go write that book, or finish that invention, or go back to school, etc. and here is a kid that survives a famine and then pulls himself out of poverty by reading books and putting what he learns into action to make his life better.  Truly humbling.

I also appreciated that it is written by William (with help from his co-writer) and I like that he gives a lot of details about the good things in his life in Africa.  He doesn't discount the African traditions of magic and superstition, but simply explains them as a way of life.  You can tell he has a great love for his land and wants to make it a better place.  If we all had this kind of concern for our own lives, our world and each other, what a better world it could be!

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