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About the Author

Ivan Ralchev
Student (Lund, Sweden)

I am 24 years old boy from Bulgaria. I am an unbreakable idealist. I study International Marketing and Brand Management at Lund University in Sweden and I have a passion for photography.

Post

The story of William Kamkwamba who harnessed the wind

Published 27th March 2010 - 10 comments - 13169 views -

He comes from Malawi, a state in the southeast part of Africa. Although his English is not very good, his sense of humour is fresh and touching. So is his story. Back in 2001 his nation was in a trouble. Drought threatened people in South Africa with starvation. He did not "accept this future". But watch the video first and then listen to me.

He and his family are simple farmers "in a country of poor farmers". Developed nations have been trying to help Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, to fight famine through "heavily subsidised seeds and fertilisers". I do not know how sustainable that kind of help might be, since the other important issue is population in Malawi and its growth. What you may ask yourself and, thus, challenge my post, is which is the best way to take.

Well, look at William. Watch the video again. His story is a story of success. He had to leave school because he had to take care of their land and crops. He could barely read, but he built wind turbines! Yes, simple and not very efficient ones, but they brought electricity to his home.

Education, knowledge, know-how, technology, support for entrepreneurs. This is the way. The sustainable way.

Read his blog on http://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/. There are a bunch of videos of him out there, you can even have his book - The boy who harnessed the wind. What about Moving Windmills Project? Now he is even trying to rebuild his school.

A bag of crops? A box of fertilisers? No. Knowledge and passion was all he needed. This may not be the case or THE solution, but it is a way, by all means.

What do you think?


Category: Technology | Tags: africa, hunger, malawi, wind turbine,


Comments

  • Tomas Moe Skjølsvold on 27th March 2010:

    Great example of bottom-up action..
    I see that the BBC article you link to about the fetilizer subsidy programme reallly praises it as a “miracle”, and in terms of aggregated increase in food-security I’ve seen first-hand that it serves a purpose. It isn’t all great, however, consider this piece on corruption in the fertilizer program: http://www.panos.org.uk/?lid=30497


  • Ivan Ralchev on 27th March 2010:

    Thanks for the comment, Thomas!
    An interesting article, indeed.
    Corruption is a massive problem, I didn’t think of it when I wrote the post, though.
    However, through indirect help (as in the case with know-how, knowledge, education, technology) this could be avoided, to some extent at least.


  • Elsje Fourie on 27th March 2010:

    Hi Ivan - yes, I was thinking about this story a lot when we all spoke earlier this week about whether newspapers should report more good news. I remember this story being everywhere in the media, and really capturing people’s imagination.  It showed to me that people do want good news, as long as it’s truly something new and different, and if they don’t feel “preached at”.  Hopefully we can find more stories like this!


  • Elsje Fourie on 27th March 2010:

    Whoops - wasn’t logged in with my last comment, but now you’ll see the link to my profile.


  • Elsje Fourie on 27th March 2010:

    Sorry, me again!  Just wanted to let you know he’s from Malawi, not SA grin


  • Ivan Ralchev on 27th March 2010:

    Thanks, Elsje! I am looking for other good stories as well.

    And thanks for the correction, I had misspelled Malawi, but yeah, it is a country in southeast Africa.


  • Oszkar Lovas on 27th March 2010:

    Thank you Ivan for sharing this video! It was very inspirational and touching at the same time. Like you said, knowledge and passion was all he needed. I couldn’t agree more with you on that.

    (In fact, I stated education being one of the crucial factors for development, in my first blog post.)


  • Daniel on 27th March 2010:

    Wow… what a guy. It is really amazing what can be done with dreams, innovative thinking, and very little materials smile

    In terms of development, I think there are two other heroes in this story - his school, that thaught him to read and write well enough to understand the physics books in the library, and the library itself. I think we often underestimate the role of libraries and freely available information in society. Imagine if this guy would have had to pay for the books back in 2001…


  • Daniel on 27th March 2010:

    I just read the article that Tomas links to above. An interesting read. I think corruption and organised crime is always a problem when big money are involved. Of course it is even easier for criminals to operate in an under developed country,  but it happens everwhere to some extent.

    The best way to avoid corruption is probably what this guy does - doing things yourself, and doing it cheaply.


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 28th March 2010:

    I’ll check it out as soon as I steal a humane amount of time for myself. It does look intriguing, what you are writing.


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