Chapter Fifteen & Epilogue

Summary: Chapter Fifteen

William travels to the TED conference in Arusha, Tanzania. He is nervous, but he is impressed with the variety of people at the conference. Tom Reilly introduces himself to William. Tom is in charge of organizing the corporate sponsors for the TED event. Tom shows William the Internet and asks if he would like to speak on the stage. William agrees, but is very nervous to speak in front of so many scientists. When William goes on stage, one of the organizers shows pictures of the windmill and asks William questions, since William is so overwhelmed. After everyone applauds and cheers, William feels that he has finally been recognized for all that he suffered and worked for. Tom then helps William secure donations, so that he can attend a better school and acquire more materials for his projects. 

When William returns to Wimbe, workers lay proper cable and install light fixtures in his home. William attends the African Bible College Christian Academy in Lilongwe, which has distance learning with students from all over the world. William is able to buy mattresses, proper roofing, mosquito netting and better blankets for his family. He also sends everyone in his family to the doctor and dentist. 

Eventually, a bore-hole is drilled for a deep well, supplying William’s family with clean drinking water. It is the only automatic water system for miles around, and every day, dozens of women come to fill buckets with clean, free drinking water. William travels to New York to visit Tom Reilly. He is given a tour and gets to ride in a helicopter over the city. They also travel to California, where William gets to see the windmills in Palm Springs that were on the cover of the book that inspired him. William returns to Africa with a plan to reclaim his education and teach others to build windmills, so that they can have light and water without having to depend on the government.

Summary: Epilogue

William is invited to speak at the World Economic Forum on Africa, discussing technology in emerging countries. William is also honored at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, as part of an exhibit called “Fast Forward: Inventing the Future.” William is then accepted to the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, a school trying to “train Africa’s next generation of leaders.” William feels as if he is surrounded by colleagues there, as many of the students have overcome hardship and have plans to improve Africa. The Epilogue ends with William calling for encouragement of those “still struggling to keep moving forward,” and with a vision of people working together to build a better future.

Analysis: Chapter Fifteen & Epilogue

At the book’s conclusion, William’s innovative spirit is fully validated. All the hard work William put into building his windmill and helping his community pays off with international travel and schooling. Despite his nervousness in front of the TED crowd, William has already proven his worth as an inventor and scientist, and he gets help continuing his schooling in a better environment. William also oversees improvements in his home and community, taking a leadership role. No longer ostracized for his bizarre tendencies and mechanical experiments, William is now respected by his neighbors. They finally understand the benefit of his innovative spirit. International travel and recognition further support William’s development. When he meets his fellow students at the African Leadership Academy, he sees similarities to his journey. These individuals have beaten the odds and broken the cycle of poverty in their home countries, just like William.

When a well is finally dug at William’s house, he is happy to share free water with his village in true mutual support. William’s journey had humble beginnings despite his international acclaim. While he now travels to New York and Johannesburg, the first help he got was in the village. His father, his good friend, and even the local welder helped William in the early days. Now he is returning the favor in mutual support by providing free water to the villagers. When William attends the African Leadership Academy, he finds even more ground for mutual support in his fellow students. They, like himself, have worked hard to help their communities. William feels a strong sense of solidarity with these students. At this point, the ideas of mutual support and progress are fully revealed. William knows that he can help the community that protected him as a child. He also knows that others have done the same thing. He knows now that anything is possible when people help each other.