William had a dream of bringing electricity and running water to his village. And he was not prepared to wait for politicians or aid groups to do it for him. The need for action was even greater in 2002 following one of Malawi’s worst droughts, which killed thousands of people and left his family on the brink of starvation.
Unable to attend school, he kept up his education by using a local library. Fascinated by science, his life changed one day when he picked up a tattered textbook and saw a picture of a windmill. Mr Kamkwamba 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 not helping his family farm maize, he plugged away at his prototype, working by the light of a paraffin lamp in the evenings. But his ingenious project met blank looks in his community of about 200 people.
“Many, including my mother, thought I was going crazy,” he recalls. “They had never seen a windmill before.” [x]
In 2014, William Kamkwamba received his 4 year degree at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where he was a student.