11th Annual One Book // The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

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The Park City Educational Foundation, along with many community partners presents its 11th Annual One Book/One Community event. This year's selection is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a book written by William Kamkwamba and which premiered as a film at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Now, known as a Malawian innovator, engineer and author, he was only 13 years old in 2002, when he gained fame for building a wind turbine from scrap materials which powered electrical appliances in his family's house and changed the fate of his village in drought plagued times. 

During Kamkwamba's first TED Talk he said “I tried and I made it”...an inspirational message to any young person finding themselves in difficult circumstances. “Beginning a project is always tough but they should know they are never alone,” advises Kamkwamba. “Young people should always try to reach out to others; the teachers, mentors and other adults in their lives who want to see them succeed in life.”

Becoming an author has changed his life. “I got inspired by people who tell me they read my book. There are so many times I hear from people who read the book and it made them do something amazing. For me, in writing the book I wanted to share my story with the rest of the world. So when I hear from people who know my story, it makes me happy to know that I can make some positive impact in other people’s lives even when I don’t know them personally.”

80% of the Malawian population are farmers struggling to feed the people. Much farming is done by hand but there are simple tools which could make farming easier and more efficient. In order to help create those tools, Kamkwamba is currently working on building an innovation center in Malawi. “I want to build a space where young people can find the tools and mentor-ship they need to create simple tools with the power to change their lives. I know there is so much talent in Malawi but opportunity is not universal. When I was building my windmill I think having a mentor and a space to build that had tools would have made it easier.”

Although he wasn't an official adviser on the film, he did answer some minor questions and visited the set while it was being shot in Malawi. He attended the Sundance premiere here in Park City in January. “It was my first time going to a movie premiere. It was cold but wonderful.”

William Kamkwamba will be visiting Park City again in October and presenting on October 9 at 7 pm at Jim Santy Auditorium. The public is invited to attend. See the PC Educational website for a complete list of events:  https://www.pcef4kids.org/events/author-in-residence 

LiteraryBarbara Bretz