An Update on William Kamkwamba, the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Last year I shared the story of William Kamkwamba, also known as the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a young innovator from Malawi who taught himself to generate electricity by building a windmill from found materials and scrap parts.  I was inspired to read William’s story and thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet him in person on several occasions – most recently over his winter break from Dartmouth when he stayed with his “American family,” ThinkFun co-founders Andrea Barthello and Bill Ritchie!

I wanted to share the following update on William by the leaders of the “Moving Windmills” documentary project – and an opportunity to help him continue his incredible journey to change the world!

William back for second quarter at Dartmouth College

Update courtesy of Ben Nabors & Tom Rielly  

Many of you have inquired, “What is William Kamkwamba, the subject of our documentary, up to now?”

William is enrolled as a sophomore at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. He is majoring in environmental studies with a minor in engineering. He’s doing very well, with first quarter grades to be proud of. He has two amazing roommates, one from the U.S. and one from Haiti. He is well-known and liked by the campus community and has many friends. His English has come so far since leaving the village 4 1/2 years ago. He receives scholarships to pay for the $60,000/year bill.

One of the reasons he selected Dartmouth is for the Thayer School of Engineering, America’s oldest engineering school. They have an amazing building filled with every kind of high-tech tools available 24/7 to any student, including laser cutters, computer aides drill presses, and computer aided milling machines to name just three. Naturally, WK especially enjoys the hands-on classes where students working in teams have to build things from scratch.

William’s teachers have called him one of the hardest working, most determined students they’ve ever met. He has to be, as he needs to overcome poor schooling as a child, cultural differences, and English as a Second Language. But he has proven since freshman year that he is more than up to the challenge.

Besides his amazing family back home in Malawi, William also enjoys the support of several American families, with whom he stays when he doesn’t go home for the holidays. He just passed a relaxing winter break in Alexandria, VA and San Diego, CA.

The production of “Moving Windmills,” a feature-length documentary that tells William’s story, follows William from this early invention to present day and illustrates how imagination and ingenuity can inspire a family, a village, and a nation.

At this stage in the project, we (Ben Nabors and Tom Rielly) have been working with and following William for almost 4 years.  We are finished with principal photography and the footage looks beautiful. We are now editing a rough cut of the film.  We’re confident that getting to a strong rough cut will attract broadcasters and distributors to provide finishing funds necessary to complete post-production.

Please join with us to reach the rough cut of this important story!  With just 4 days to go on this campaign, there’s still an incredible opportunity for you to help us.  Would you consider making a pledge?


Resource:  If you’re a resourceful person like William, you might be interested in connecting with other creative and innovative individuals through online engineering degree programs.

2 thoughts on “An Update on William Kamkwamba, the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

  1. Dawn Little

    I am a teacher that read “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” for pleasure last summer. This is such an inspiring story that I have offered my students extra credit points for reading the book. So many children could benefit from hearing the struggles that William went through and how he was driven to work hard and not give up regardless of his situation. My hope is that the kids who struggle with adversity at home will take time to read this book and be inspired to get a good education and make a change for themselves.

  2. Charlotte Post author

    Thanks for sharing this, Dawn!
    William’s story is an inspiration for us all, and I’m thrilled to hear you’re encouraging your students to learn from his incredible resourcefulness and drive to create something that improved the lives if his entire community!

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