The boy who harnessed the wind

This movie is based on real life events that took place in Malawi Africa. The story starts in 2001 and centers around a family living in Malawi. There are two children, a young boy and his older sister, and a mother and father. Right away you sense how life in Malawi is vastly different from life here in the United States. For example, the family takes showers outside with water from a well, and also they do not have indoor electricity. Another striking difference is that the young boy, whose name is William, is twelve and has never been to school. One day the parents surprise William with a school uniform. They are planning to send William to a local school. William is so excited. This is truly a life changing moment and William knows this.

On the first day of school, it starts raining extremely hard. This is quite a contrast from the last few months where Malawi has been experiencing a drought. William’s first class is Science, and after class his teacher tells him that his parents have not paid the school fees yet; and that they must do so immediately otherwise William cannot attend.

The rain continues and soon the area is flooded. Tyrell, who is William’s father, is a farmer and he is devastated when all the crops are damaged form the flooding. Tyrell knew the flooding was inevitable because too many trees were being cut down. The trees acted as a levee. The other farmers in the area had been selling their land rights to companies wanting to cut down the trees in the region. People foresee hard times coming when the flooding arrives and believe selling their rights to their land is the only way to survive.

One night William is walking home with his school friend, and he sees his science teacher kissing his sister. William and his friend are shocked. Many questions ran throughout their mind. For example, when did this affair start? William’s sister also attended the same school and was a student not so long ago. If word of this got out it could be quite scandalous, and the science teacher could get fired. But as soon as William gets home this is out of his mind as everyone is focusing on the hunger season that is coming due to the flooding.

William’s science teacher has a cool bike. The bike has a light on it and when he starts pedaling the light turns on. This bike fascinates William. The next day at school William asks about the bike and the response he gets from his teacher is ‘maybe you can find the answer in the library’. William tells his teacher that he cannot get into the library because is parents have not yet paid his school fees; and then William adds ‘maybe because you are dating my sister you can find a way to get me into the library”. William’s teacher immediately brings him into the library and explains to the librarian that William is allowed to use the library.

The President of The National Unity Party, which is a political party in Malawi, visits the region near William’s house; and there is a big reception. The Chief of the local region gives a speech for the President in which he condemns the government for turning a blind eye towards the flooding/drought problem in the area; and the people who are hungry. The President’s men take the Chief off the stage and start beating him. William, Tyrell, and a few others stop the beating. A few days later several government trucks show up with grain, near William’s house, to sell to the people in the area; but the amount of grain is not enough, and many people are still hungry.  

William gets an idea from a book he read in the library. He can build a windmill that charges a battery, that can pump water from the well; and this way he and his father can plant almost year around as there will always be a source of water. But William needs the technology in his science teacher’s bike, the dynmo, as it is called in the movie. William storms into his sister’s room at home and says, ‘I know you are seeing my science teacher and I do not care but if you want me to not tell anyone please tell him that I need the dynmo’. The very next day William finds the dynmo is his room and his sister has run away with the teacher.

William first builds a small version of the windmill that powers a radio. Now that he is sure that he can build a windmill he needs the proper parts. Many of the young men in the village help William to find the proper parts. They go to the garbage dump and find wiring and plastic to make blades for the windmill. But there is one part they did not find, and that is a wheel such as a wheel on a bike. William asks his father if he can have his father’s bike to use for the windmill. William explains that they will have water year around and they will be able to grow food; and help many people. William’s father becomes incredibly angry and forbids William to use his bike. At one point all of William’s friends confront the father and demand that he give the bike to William. This does not work as the father tries to fight them all. It is at this point that William’s friends leave the village in search for a better home and hopefully food.

A few days later the mother and father have a heart-to-heart talk and the mother says ‘listen nothing we are doing is working. Give the boy a chance and give him your bike’. It is at this moment that William’s father gives William the bike, and then everything changes. The entire village joins William in building the windmill. They cut down trees and build the windmill. William takes care of the battery and all the technical stuff and low and behold it works! The windmill charges the battery which works the water pump which pumps water out of the well. The entire village rejoices as they know they will have enough food.

A few days later there is a moment where father and son stare into each other’s eyes with love and there is admiration of both sides. Both father and son have changed a lot and have grown a lot. Word of this invention gets around and William is offered a scholarship to a local school in Malawi where he later goes on to get an undergraduate degree in the United States.

I love this movie! It really inspires me to be my best and to try things that scare me, like building a windmill. This is a great movie to watch if you are looking for inspiration and I love the quote at the end of the movie ‘God is as the wind which touches everything’.

“God is as the wind which touches everything”