The Little Farmer Who Saved His Family From Famine With A Homemade Mill

The little farmer who saved his family from famine with a homemade mill

William Kamkwamba built a machine that changed his life and that of his family, he was only 14 years old. Before rising to fame, he had never been far from his home in Malawi. I had never used a personal computer, or a tablet, or a smartphone. I had never seen or used the Internet. Now he even has his own biography.

He has seven sisters. Before discovering the wonders of science, he was a farmer in a poor farming country. Like almost everyone in his community, his family grew corn. But one year luck turned its back on them. In 2001 they had a terrible famine. For 5 long months, everyone in Malawi began to starve. At home they ate only three bites of corn each day, at night.

William Kamkwamba mill

In Malawi, secondary education is not free, so due to the famine she had to drop out of school. But he was happy to have reached secondary education. But he did not give up, he went to the library, read science books, especially physics. He did not understand English very well, so he looked at the diagrams and photos to better understand the texts.

The little farmer who saved his family from famine with a homemade mill

One day he received a book that changed his life and that of his family, ‘Using energy’, a book that taught him how to build a windmill to pump water and generate electricity. He quickly saw the great possibilities, pumping water meant irrigation, and irrigation meant food and money for his family. So he didn’t think twice and decided to build his own windmill. But he didn’t have the materials to build it. So he went to the nearest junkyard and got everything he needed.

In his community, even his own family, they believed he was crazy. Then everyone wanted to help him when they saw that his ingenuity had real utility for their lives.

William Kamkwamba riding his mill

He found a tractor fan, a shock absorber, PVC pipes. He used tree trunks, a bicycle frame, and a dynamo to build his mill, he used everything he had within reach. At first it was you could turn on a light with your wit Then four, with switches and even an automatic switch, very similar to the commercial ones.

William Kamkwamba2

He was finally able to fine-tune the system and power the machine that pumps water for irrigation.

William Kamkwamba

His first mill was 5 meters high, then he built a 12 meter mill.

William Kamkwamba newspaper

People lined up at home to charge their phones  :). Then came the journalists, the blogs, and then they called him from TED. He had never seen an airplane in his life. He had never slept in a hotel. He got his dream. Here you have his talk:

Kamkwamba attended the Africa Leadership Academy, a pan-African preparatory school in Johannesburg, South Africa. He lectures all over the world and is one of the most important bloggers in Africa.

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