Tag Archives: William Kamkwamba

William and the Windmill

I have shared several posts on the incredible William Kamkwamba, also known as the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and I’m thrilled to share the next chapter in his amazing story.

A young innovator from Malawi who taught himself to generate electricity by building a windmill from found materials and scrap parts, William embodies what it means to be a problem solver – resourceful, creative, and pioneering in his vision and drive.


On Sunday, a new documentary William and the Windmill will have its world premiere at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.  This film from director Ben Nabors details both his original story and his subsequent brush with fame (click here for more) – I can’t wait to see it! You can see the movie’s trailer below:


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Now in picture book form!

In 2010 I shared this post by ThinkFun co-founder Andrea Barthello introducing the incredible William Kamkwamba, better known as The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind!

Over the past several years, William has continued his incredible journey and is completing his second year at Dartmouth University.  After a successful fundraising initiative in January, progress continues on Moving Windmills, a feature-length documentary that follows William from this early invention to present day and illustrates how imagination and ingenuity can inspire a family, a village, and a nation.  His story continues to spread, and his book has been assigned in schools, embraced by communities, and has inspired problem solvers worldwide!

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

In honor of National D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read) today, I’m thrilled to share the new picture book version of William’s story – written and beautifully illustrated for a much younger audience.  William was a young boy when his invention changed the lives of his entire community, and I love that his story will inspire early readers to seek creative new solutions to problems in the world.

William’s books recently kicked off the “All Alexandria Reads” initiative in our local community, and he came to share his story to a crowd of eager readers of all ages.  With versions for readers of all ages, I hope this story continues to spread and inspire!

This video tells the story of how We Give Books is helping William to make a difference in his community!

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Here, ThinkFun founder Andrea Barthello shares the incredible story of William Kamkwamba. This inspired young man from Malawi truly embodies what it means to be a problem solver. Enjoy!

During the spring of 2007 I received a phone call from my son Sam who was at the time a sophomore at Princeton University.  With some urgency in his voice, Sam asked, “Mom, do you want to go to Africa”.  Without hesitation I said, “Yes when are we going?!”

That was the start of an adventure and an impact on my life that I could never have predicted.  I am grateful for that phone call – I’ll explain why.  In the fall of 2007, having had our shots, purchased our malaria pills and other precaution-oriented pharmacy items – Sam and I were ready for an adventure and off to TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania!

I won’t go into the impact that TED has, as that is another story and continues to evolve to this day.  I will tell you, though, that I value the friendships I made, the country, the villages, the people, the majestic animals in their natural habitat… the opportunity to travel with one of my sons brings tears to my eye to this day – it was a most special trip.

The reason I am writing this now is because this month marks the graduation of William Kamkwamba, a boy from Malawi I met at TEDGlobal in the fall of 2007.

William shares his story at TEDGlobal 2007

When William was 14, his country was suffering from famine and drought, his family was starving and could no longer afford to send him to school.  So what did he do?  Young William built a windmill which ultimately provided electricity for his village. He built it out of scraps from a junkyard, and his source of inspiration was a drawing in a book called Using Energy he found in the library.

Luckily for William, there was a man named Tom Rielly at TED.  Tom became William’s mentor, and has really become William’s “American dad.”  William’s story has evolved and is shared in the book The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer – I promise you will love the story.  Share it with your kids, they will be moved and inspired as countless others have been.

“William Kamkwamba’s achievements with wind energy should serve as a model of what one person, with an inspired idea, can do to tackle the crisis we face. ” -Al Gore, former Vice President & Nobel Laureate

When Tom Rielly asked me/ThinkFun to help support William’s return to school to finish his education, I had no hesitation – William is the perfect example of a “problem solver in action,” and our products help kids learn how to problem solve – so of course the answer was yes, we would help.

Since that first meeting in 2007, William has returned to school, brought electricity to his village, dug a well for his village, started a school in his village, co-authored a book, been the focus of a Documentary film that is in the works, traveled across the US on a book tour, and now he will graduate from the African Leadership Academy – WOW!

William and co-author Bryan Mealer in my kitchen during his recent US book tour!

But wait, the story does continue.  This fall, William will return to the US and head to Dartmouth College, where he is going to continue his education with a focus on engineering.  Stay tuned more updates and photos, and please visit www.WilliamKamkwamba.com to learn more about William and get involved.