Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Before I tell you what I think about this story, I will let William tell you about it himself. (Notice near the end-William is sporting an ABCCA t-shirt!!)

I got this book for Christmas and couldn't wait to get started. Still, it took me a while to finish another novel before I could pick this one up. I'm not a two-timer. I have to read one book at a time. Finally, I cracked open the cover and quickly committed all of my free time to the pages.

The book opens with stories of his father and mother. William Kamkwamba paints a beautiful picture of Malawi and the people there. He describes the culture one story at a time. It only took seconds for me to sink into this book, often ignoring house work and phone calls and staying up way too late. The words came to life in my head, bringing back all the memories of Malawi that I hold onto with a tight fist. At times while reading, I wanted to tell William "it's okay, you don't have to explain that 100 kwacha is not a lot of money" and so on. I understood his language and knew what we was talking about. I could picture his house, his school, his clothing. I felt like I had been there.

After a good number of chapters, things become serious as William describes life during the drought of 2001. This section was difficult for me to read through without crying. It was so real, so devastating and I couldn't help but think of my friends who also suffered through it. The drought is what kept William out of school and in the fields. When there was nothing left to grow or harvest, William spent his time in a "library" reading anything he could to keep up with his fellow classmates. From then on, the story of the windmill unfolds. It gets pretty technical at times but was still interesting to hear exactly what it took to create such a work of art.

Near the end of the book, William writes about his experience at a TED conference. He was invited to speak about his windmill but still spoke very poor English:

"After I drop out from school, I went to library and I read a book, that one-Using Energy, and I get information about windmill and I try and I make."

Below is the interview. It's really only 4 minutes long with a 2 minute commercial at the end.

"I try and I make" became the theme of the conference that weekend. Everyone was so impressed with William and his heart and determination to bring change to his village through power. Since then, William has not only brought electricity to his home, but has also brought water closer to his home, saving his mother and sisters hours of walking time each day. This idea can truly change the way of life for many Africans, not just in Malawi.

Although I never spent time with William, we have many mutual friends through the African Bible College Christian Academy. It was fun to read about my friends and William's experience at ABCCA. I felt proud to have been a part of it and proud to have ever known Malawi. I pray that William continues in his work toward changing his village and bringing hope to his people. It really is such an exciting thing!

1 comment:

  1. I am in awe. What a wonderful thing. And to think that you guys are just one degree of separation away from him. It must be thrilling, to read about Malawi and everything. I need to read that book. Thanks for the cool review.