African student builds windmill to help family and villagers

The Champion

April 2, 2012

By Daniel Beauregard

From an early age, William Kamkwamba was fascinated with how things worked.

“I used to think that inside the radio there were tiny people who spoke,” Kamkwamba said.

Kamkwamba later found a radio and pulled it open to see whether there really were tiny people. What he found inside surprised him.

“Are these the people who speak in the radio?,” he asked himself of the different components. “I thought the only way I could tell if they were people would be to twist one of them to see if it screamed.”

Nothing screamed when Kamkwamba twisted the small component and from then on, he spent hours taking apart radios piece by piece.

“That’s how I learned to fix radios,” Kamkwamba said.

Kamkwamba spoke March 21 to students and faculty at Georgia Perimeter’s College’s (GPC) Clarkston campus about his book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. English Professor Mary Helen Ramming said she read Kamkwamba’s book two years ago when she designed a curriculum for refugee students.

“I knew at that point it was a dream I had to sell to my colleagues, to get him to come to our campus, because I believe his story motivates us all,” Ramming said.

Kamkwamba is currently attending Dartmouth College and plans to major in environmental engineering.