by William Kamkwamba
What if you had to go to bed when the sun went down because you didn’t have electricity? What if you had to spend two hours a day walking to a deep well to get drinking water for your family? What if you had to pay to go to school, even elementary school?
Famine and hardship didn’t stop young William from thinking that he could improve his family’s situation…and with the help of a two-shelf library in his village, he did. First, William built a windmill that generated electricity so his family could visit, play games, and study in the evenings. Next, he built a deep bore well so they could have clean drinking water, a well he generously shared with the whole village.
An American NGO heard about William and he was invited to speak at TED. Before long, he could afford to buy mosquito netting for his family and friends. (You can imagine how having malaria and intestinal parasites cuts down on a person’s ambition and ability to create in their own life.)
Of course this book is exciting and inspirational. It’s also sad. I was infuriated to read how the village chief was brutally beaten for trying to force the President of Malawi to do something about the awful famine which he continually denied was even happening.
The friendship between William and a few of the village boys was touching. He was so grateful to Gilbert, the son of the chief, for buying him parts for his windmill when he couldn’t have afforded it. I think Africans in general have something we Americans have lost–a sense of community and the knowledge that if one of us starves, all of us are starving.
Rating: Five bushels of corn meal = Excellent