A Review By: Amelia
Humans have been conditioned to root for the underdog since birth. We hiss at the big evil holding the little person down and cheer wildly when that little person succeeds. It’s because we see that underdog in ourselves that we do it: that little person is us and every step towards improving life that that underdog takes is a step we too could be making! It’s all very inspiring and that’s why I was drawn to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the true story of a boy in Africa that refused to do nothing even though the world was giving him nothing.
When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library and, because of his perseverance, figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Adamant to succeed against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and became a hero to his village.
William Kamkwamba grew up without any real luxury besides an education. But when he stopped being able to attend his school what little luxury he had seemed to be gone forever. That is until he took every available moment to studying on his own at a local library. He used his love of machinery to build a windmill capable of bringing power to his village. Since then, he has built a solar-powered water pump for fresh water, has attended university in the United States, been interviewed on The Daily Show, had a children’s picture book written about his journey to better and world, and been named on the list of ’30 People Under 30 Changing the World’.
Malawi is a country where magic is viewed as the norm and modern science is, at best, a mystery, and at worst, something to be shunned and ignored. It’s a country where life hangs on whether the rains come and where drought and hunger can last half a life time. William Kamkwamba believed he could change this. His neighbours claimed he was crazy but William refused to believe it and with a pile of long forgotten science textbooks, some scrap metal, human curiosity, and determination he crafted a miracle that would forever change lives. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is an extraordinary true story about one boy’s desire for knowledge and how his human inventiveness and just a basic education helped change his community and better the lives of those around him.
My final thoughts on The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind are that it is a truly inspiring tale and not just for those living under crippling adversity. William Kamkwamba is just one man and yet with a little human ingenuity he changed the lives of so many. This book is a testament to the human spirit and our need for community. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of a single person’s ability to change the world for the better. One person is all it takes.