News that makes a difference



I looked at my father and I looked at the dry fields. It was a future I could not accept.”  — William Kamkwamba

I WOULD LIKE to tell you about a teenager who had nothing in life except the desire to keep going and not give up. The teenager is William Kamkwamba from Malawi, South Africa. His poor village did not have the internet or even electricity and running water. Can you imagine the world today without these simple things? When William was 14, his family became poor because for a long time in Malawi there was no rain and they could not grow crops. His parents did not have enough money to pay for school and so he had to leave school even though he didn’t want to. But despite everything, and instead of complaining and sharing the fate of other poor villagers, he reached his dream. He started to read books at a local library. Every day he walked to the library to study. Then he used what he learned to do something that would help his village.  

    In the library he found a book called, Using Energy. The book showed how windmills can make electricity. The idea was very practical for the area where William lived and so he was very interested in it. When William wasn’t reading books, he spent his time at different landfills (places where people put trash) in search of parts that could make a windmill. He found things like bicycle parts, old wire, pieces of metal. But everyone around him was laughing at him and his idea. They actually thought he was going mad and the villagers told his parents he must be sent away. It was very difficult for him when people began to say that he was crazy. But even despite this, he walked strongly toward his goal. William built his first windmill. It took him about two months to build. It was made of plastic pipes, parts of old tractors, bicycles, and motorcycles. 

     The miracle that only he believed in, finally happened. It started to work and all the villagers came and saw it work. He used electricity from the windmill to play a radio and to light up a lightbulb. People no longer thought he was crazy. For the first time his family had light at night and could read and work at night. But he did not stop there. William built four more windmills. His whole village now has electricity and an electric water pump. 

     What William did attracted the attention of people all over the world and because of this, different sponsors gave him money to get an excellent education. 

     I think that in our time, when there are so many problems, the example of this boy is very important. It is proof that if you do not fold your hands (if you do not just sit and say there is nothing I can do) you can change a lot of things in your world. William’s life proves that success does not depend on where you live or what you have. It’s like he once said, “Don’t insult me today just because I’m poor. You don’t know what my future holds!” 

      Tonya [native language, Ukrainian]

 ©preInterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us: