Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

I feel like a one man fan club, but for this EVOKE power I feel I must talk about William Kamkwamba. William, as a teenager in rural Malawi, set out to build a windmill in the hopes that the electricity it would produce would help to break his family and eventually his community and country out of the cycle of poverty. Accomplishing such a task in his situation is no easy feat, and William displayed his resourcefulness in several different ways.

Local knowledge
The idea for an electricity-generating windmill came from textbooks William's local library was fortunate enough to have obtained. Not only this, but at the time William was studying how to build his windmill, he was unable to attend school due to his family being unable to afford the tuition. To this end, he also used the librarian's knowledge to help him understand the English text when he could not.

Local materials
To make the windmill itself, William was extremely creative with what he had available. For the windmill blades, he found PVC pipes, which he then cut in half, heated over fire, and flattened out. The hub of the windmill was fashioned out of an old tractor engine fan. To generate the electricity, he salvaged a bicycle and attached a dynamo to it, with the windmill "pedaling" the bicycle. William even made a circuit breaker, based on an electric bell, to ensure that shorts in the system wouldn't burn his house down.

Local labor
In order to perform the welding needed for the windmill, William worked around his village to gain the money he needed to pay a welder to assemble his invention. He also had the help of friends and family in obtaining parts and labor to help construct the tower.

I can only hope that under a similar situation I would have the same resourcefulness, but stories like William's at least give me the inspiration for whatever challenges I might encounter in the future.

Views: 26

Comment by Josh Judkins on March 7, 2010 at 8:34am
Hi David! You're certainly not alone here in being inspired by William Kamkwamba - you might want to check out Yemisi Ajumobi's ACT1 Post.

I look forward to reading more of your entries!
Comment by David Perner on March 7, 2010 at 5:08pm
Thanks for the comment Josh, I'll certainly check it out. I'm not sure if it's as detailed as Yemisi's, but my ACT1 was about William as well, haha.


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