Malawi Teen Builds Windmills Out Of Trash To Power His Village

William Kamkwamba, a teen from Malawi, wanted to bring electricity and running water to his village, so he devised a way to make it happen without the help of politicians or aid groups.

In 2002, Malawi was struck by a severe drought that killed thousands of people and nearly caused his family to starve to death. During that time, he was unable to attend school. He kept up his education by utilizing the books kept in his local library. William has always been fascinated by science, and his life changed the day that he picked up a torn up textbook that featured windmills.

William told the BBC News website: "I was very interested when I saw the windmill could make electricity and pump water. I thought: 'That could be a defense against hunger. Maybe I should build one for myself'."

When he wasn't helping out on his family farm, he worked on his turbine prototype, working by a paraffin lamp well into the evenings. Many of his friends and neighbors thought he was nuts.

"Many, including my mother, thought I was going crazy," he recalls. "They had never seen a windmill before."

Neighbors thought it was kind of strange that he was spending so much time going through the trash. "People thought I was smoking marijuana," he said. "So I told them I was only making something for juju [magic].' Then they said: 'Ah, I see.'"

Apparently that was an acceptable answer.

William, who is now 22 years old, eventually managed to pull of making a wind turbine from bike parts, a tractor fan blade, and a shock absorber. He made the blades out of plastic pipes flattened by the heat of a fire.

His community's mirth quickly turned to excitement when he demonstrated that his turbine worked, hooking the turbine up to a car light bulb. When the blades spun in the breeze, the crowd of shocked onlookers saw the bulb flicker to life and went wild.

Check out the full story told by William himself:

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