Sunday, April 19, 2009

William Kamkwamba: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

So let us be up and doing
With a heart for any fate
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and to wait."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Every once in a while, life presents us with people or situations that remind us just how much we take things for granted. Last year, I downloaded a TED talk about William Kamkwamba, a (then) 19 year old boy from Malawi who had taken it upon himself to create a windmill from locally available materials.

William Kamkwamba

Being a renewable energy enthusiast, I was taken aback by the unrelenting effort, determination and hope exhibited by William's actions. And this clearly reminded me of what John 'Jigsaw' Cramer had said in SAW III, that "Despite having all the advantages, many of us still choose not to advance."

From William Kamkwamba's profile at TED,
When he was 14, he built an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap, working from rough plans he found in a library book called "Using Energy" (by Mary Atwater) and modifying them to fit his needs. The windmill he built powers four lights and two radios in his family home.

Watch the following presentation by William Kamkwamba and Chris Anderson at the TED Global Conference in Arusha, Tanzania in 2007.

You can watch this TED Talk, read reviews and download the video free at the TED web site.

The first windmill William built was 5m tall. The current one is 12m. See the photos below:

William Kamkwamba's earlier windmill

William Kamkwamba's current windmill

William Kamkwamba did it. He believed in himself, started with whatever little he had, where he was. Regardless of his age, the odds stacked against him and the fact that he had no one to help him realize his goal of providing energy for his family. Read more on William's blog - his background, his project and what he is currently doing.

Right now, you may be in a position to simply realize your dreams by just making a few steps here and there. You have all the advantages - the information, the time, the support, the finances - and yet, you still choose not to advance.

So, what is your excuse for not making the initiative?

P.S: This post is closely related to this post at Green Kenya - William Kamkwamba: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Let us learn, share and purpose to create currents of hope and positive change both in our lives and those of others. William Kamkwamba did it. US President Barack Obama did it. They believed, began and eventually became.

So can you. The time is now. Go out and harness the power that is all around you.


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