William (3)

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Photos: Erik (HASH) Hersman

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§ STORY SUBJECT:  In a country in Africa, called Malawi, there is too little rain. It is very hard to grow crops and vegetables. In this same place there is no electricity. But in this place there is much wind.


 I would like to tell you about a teenager. He had nothing in life except the courage to keep going and not give up. The teenager’s name is William Kamkwamba. He is 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. He had to leave school even though he didn’t want to. But instead of complaining and giving up, he started to read books at a local library. Every day he walked to the library to study. First, he taught himself English. Then he learned about electricity. He used everything he learned to do something to help his village.  

     In the library he found a book called, Using Energy. The book showed how windmills [see photo above] can make electricity. The idea was very practical for the place where William lived. When William wasn’t reading books, he spent his time in search of parts that could make a windmill. He went to places where people throw away trash. He found things like bicycle parts, old wire, and pieces of metal. But everyone around him was laughing at him. They all believed that he was going crazy and so the villagers told his parents that he must be sent away!  It was very difficult for William when people said that he was crazy. But he kept working.  After two months of work, William built his first windmill. It was made of plastic pipes, parts of old tractors, bicycles, and motorcycles. 

     He used electricity from the windmill to play a radio and to light up a light bulb. All the villagers came and could not believe what they were seeing. 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. 

     People all over the world learned about what William did. Because of this, different organizations gave him money to get an excellent education. 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!” 

     —Author, Tonya

Tonya lives in Ukraine. She has been learning English about 10 years. This story first appeared in the October issue of InterestEng.

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 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - April 2022 §  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 photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com