When I was in university studying Electrical and Computer Engineering I saw a TED talk by a young Malawian boy named William Kamkwamba. Never mind that I could barely pronounce his last name, this young man then, made lasting indentation in my life. It was a short speech, no more than 6 minutes long. He was visibly nervous and that impeded his efforts in speaking English (which was not his mother tongue).
He did manage to utter one phrase, which came across to me clearly: “I tried and I did it.” Those six simple words have since been a beacon which guides my life. But what did he try? And what did he do?
William Kamkwamba was the son of a poor Malawian farmer. One season, the farm experienced a severe drought and all the crops began to fail. William knew very well how vital the farm was to his family’s survival. He started on a journey to save his family’s farm – a journey which first of all, led him to the local library.
William borrowed books from the library and from the books he learned what windmills were, how they could be used to power an irrigation system for his farm and how to build one. Which he did. He did in spite of everyone else in his village calling him a mad man. He constructed a windmill from the very stuff you would typically find in a junk yard. He built his windmill and saved his farm – a real life fairytale.
There are two things that you should take from this story. The first is rather subtle but important nonetheless. It is the fact that electricity is very important. It is something that we often take for granted despite the exorbitant bills we get from JPS on a monthly basis. But consider that the amount of energy you waste by leaving your television to watch itself, that energy is needed somewhere in Africa by some poor farmer who would use it to sustain his family. We don’t usually think of electricity in that sense do we? We should.
The second thing you should take away is that you can do anything once you set your mind to it. Clichéd, I know. But in order to break the cliché, I’ll supplement it with this: that when you need to, you can. If ever you are in a situation where your back is against the wall, smile because you would then be in better position than most to do something amazing. Does it hurt when you read your light bill at the end of the month? Do you feel an unusual pain knowing that the money you worked so hard for vanishes at the end of the month? I am sure it does. Well guess what, that’s step one.
Kimroy Bailey Foundation ‘Trelawny-made’ wind turbine!
What can you do? Besides starting a movement like Kimroy Bailey has done, there are numerous steps that you can take to reduce your electricity consumption. I need not detail them for a quick browse of this site will reveal a lot to you. In fact, you may even come up with your own innovative method for saving electricity. No? Sounds too much for simple you?
I don’t believe I mentioned the fact that William was illiterate and those books he borrowed were written in English which he did not speak at the time. He learned everything from making sense of the diagrams.
Do you still consider it too difficult for you develop energy conservation strategies in your home? Or save towards a small renewable energy installation. Remember Kamkwamba’s “I tried and I did” You can too.
Guest Writer: Ramone Graham … Visit his Website.