This book tells the story of William, a young man living in the drought hardened land of Malawi. It is a land where magic and superstition are a science, and science is magic. It is also a land of poverty, hopelessness and fear. A land in which a single year of drought can kill an entire village or place you in debt for years.
Forced to drop out of secondary school because his family couldn’t afford the school fees, William decided to learn on his own in an effort to keep up with his former classmates. It is because of this determination that he found himself in the local library and discovered a forgotten American textbook that would change his life. From Using Energy, he read about windmills and their ability to create electricity, a rare commodity in his country where people could barely afford a pail of flour.
William was inspired. Using scraps he found in the garbage and the scrap yard, he began to construct a windmill that would bring lights to his home. But more importantly, a windmill would help to irrigate his family’s fields during times of drought.
I’m not going to tell you how it ends (although obviously it is a happy ending). I recommend reading this amazing story. Too much of the time the stories we read about Africa are full of death, war, rape and other atrocities. While this book does talk about death, it is more a story of rebirth told from William’s voice and view. It is fairly easy reading with dialogue and events flowing quite well. Sometimes biographies can be a bit stilted (although this could just be me as I read more fiction than non-fiction). I could not put it down (I even missed my bus stop because of it), and I guarantee that you won’t want to either.
Other important but boring info!
Reading time: I read this mostly on my transit to and from work so I can’t give an exact time. But I would estimate that it took around 2.75 hours to read.
Re-Readability: 3/5 – It’s non-fiction. I don’t tend to re-read much non-fiction unless I’m trying to find a specific quote.
Price: Chapters- $12.91/ Kobo- $9.59/ Amazon- $8.65 USD/ Kindle- $8.22 USD
Note: William attended a 2007 TED talk where he was introduced to many of the sponsors and people who continue to help him, and presented again in 2009. If you would like to help William to make more windmills for his village, finish school, or send more of his family to school, you can donate by going to William’s website.
William at the 2007 TED talk
William at the 2009 TED talk