A "Community Read" Event with Malawi-born author William Kamkwamba March 23, 2012
Sponsored by the PTA Council, City of Alexandria, Alexandria Library and Alexandria City Public Schools
Like most boys in his village in Malawi, William Kamkwamba grew up believing that magic ruled the world and hardship dominated life. As the only boy of seven children, he dutifully helped his father with the family's farming while also tending to his studies. Like most Malawians, he routinely went to bed early, right after dark, because kerosene to light lamps was very expensive (besides producing thick, black smoke that burned his eyes and made him cough). The year he turned thirteen, William also went to bed hungry. In 2000, a drought struck Malawi and devastated the country's maize crops, resulting in the worst famine in fifty years. The following year, William had to drop out of school because his parents could no longer afford the $80-a-year tuition. While seeking a distraction from boredom and starvation, he discovered something that dramatically changed the course of his future: the miracles of science.
In THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND: Creating Currents of Electricity & Hope, written with Bryan Mealer, William Kamkwamba shares the story of how he achieved his dream of bringing electricity, light, and the promise of a better life to his family and his village. It started with a bicycle dynamo-basically, a pedal-powered wheel that generates light. This taste of electricity (a luxury enjoyed by just two percent of Malawians) filled William with a desire to create his own. Before long, his scientific curiosity sent him on a quest to a build a windmill. Besides dealing with all sorts of financial obstacles and technical difficulties, William had to become a self-taught physicist, overcome local superstitions, and withstand being mocked for his "crazy" ideas.
William Kamkwamba will bring his inspirational story to Alexandria City Public Schools, March 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the T.C. Williams High School auditorium. The event serves as a kick-off to the annual "All Alexandria Reads" event series facilitated by Alexandria Library. The series is a community-based cooperative designed to promote shared experiences through reading. All are welcome.