“Think about your dreams and your ideas as little miracle machines inside you that no one else can touch. The more faith you deposit on them, the taller they get, until one day they’ll rise and take you with them.”– The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
We just finished a very fun week around Lune Station: the Children Week was filled with news and nostalgia. That also gave us space to talk a little about children protection and instituitions that are available and dedicated to the well being and enforcement of rights that exist especially directed towards children.
Many around the world go through many difficulties and, despite of what it may be, many times we don’t face it as a difficulty. Nevertheless, this can cause many damages in the future.
I talked a little bit about this on my last post: Stand By Me, 1986, and, in case you also want to read it too, we talked a little bit about international organizations that can help the cause on our last special post here on the blog: UN, UNICEF and Child Protection.
On today’s voyage, we’ll set course to a place that has years of suffering – including hunger, scarcity and where the main people who are harmed are children.
Are you ready?
We’ll leave then to the lands of west Africa – precisely on Malawi, where a true story brings us many lessons.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind is a British movie that premiered in 2019, as a biographical drama – once it’s based on a true story – written, directed and starred by Chiwetel Ejiofor (In 2013, he played Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave, for which he received nominations to the Oscars, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild, along with Best Actor BAFTA Award; this movie was his debut as a director), with its script based on the book of memories “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Maeler.
The movie tells the story of “little” and curious William Kamkwamba who comes from a family of farmers and lives in a little village neighbouring Wimbe. William is a curious child and because of that spends his time fixing radios from people of the village and is always looking for “new” things on the nearby junk yard with his best friend, the son of the village chief.
Although he cannot go to school because his family is poor and can’t afford tuition, William manages to persuade his science teacher (using blackmailing, because his teacher is in a secret relationship with his sister) to allow him to keep watching his classes and to have access to the school library, where he learns with another teacher about electric engineering and energy production.
We all agree that during childhood, a child shouldn’t have to worry about choosing which meal to have because of rationing, but during the movie we notice that he and his family are forced to act that way. William, although being a genius for his age – because he’s always searching new things to create or to learn – had moments that he couldn’t even feed his dog because his family didn’t have enough food.
Those who have seen the movie, know how important is the rain so they could eat and how people get during crisis – after all, not knowing if they’d survive or not was already difficult to face.
The harvests were bad because if it rained, it was too much and destroyed everything they wanted to harvest. And if it didn’t rain, they had no way to plant crops, because, with drought, there’s nothing to reap.
Once the drought brought hunger that led to riots because of rationing from the government, which during the time was in transition and constantly denied a country crisis, William’s family was even robbed of their already few grain stocks, leaving them in an even worse situation.
William always thought about his family and was always dedicated to them. His sister ended up running away with a teacher she met at her school during the crises, saying “it would be one less mouth to feed” and even so, even if his family was shaken and with many factors pointing no way out, the boy knew he could do something – but he also knew he’d have to go through many obstacles to get where he wanted.
William was responsible for the invention of the windmill to feed energy to an eletric water pump he found on the junk yard. But to get to this point, there were many obstacles. Having to ask his father for his bike was one of them, dealing with the fact that his father’s bike was the only one in the village and for that it had a huge sentimental value to him.
Many difficulties were imposed to William as we can observe – without doubts there are thousands of similar situations around the world, maybe not on the same conditions, but situations in which special children, just like him, are stopped from continuing their studies for not being able to afford them, for having to work since early ages to help their families – or that even are forced to work – children that can’t develop their creativity or that aren’t helped in many other aspects.
I decided to bring this topic on today’s post, because it’s still present in our society. Child labor is still big nowadays, in our wold and, mainly, it’s shocking how present it is in our countries – or maybe it isn’t.
“According to data from National Research by Domicile Sample (PnadC, in Portuguese), in 2016 there were 2,4 million children and teens from five to seventeen years old in child labor situations, which represents 6% of the population (40,1 million) of that age”– Data refering to Brazil
We sould remember that “child labor refers to the use of children in any type of labor that deprives them of their childhood, interferes their ability to attend classes regularly and considered mentally, physically and socially or morally dangerous and harmful” (free translation from original in Portuguese).
What many people sometimes believe, is that the internal questions the movie brings about children being forced to work instead of studying – most of the time not by being forced, but to help their families, like William that needed to help to plow the field among other things, once his father, at first, didn’t understand he could help another way – doesn’t fit our reality nowadays.
Very well, those people are completely mistaken.
It isn’t just child labor that remains the same, with children that need to work in order to help provide to their families among other situations – losing their childhood completely, because they need to grow up too fast, facing reality too soon – but also the amount of children outside schools also reaches absurd numbers.
“Around 263 million children and teens are not on school, according to data disclosed by UNESCO. That means that one in five people up to 17 years old does not attend a teaching institution. That means that one in three teenagers do not have the opportunity to study like the others”– Translated from original in Portuguese
Director Chiwetel Ejiofor made this real case an example about the importance of studies and what it brings – like ecology studies, humanitarian policies and sense of community.
I read a comment once about the movie and it marked me. On it, the person pointed the boy, William, never represents himself, but a purpose, something much bigger: how important schools are, the union not only of a family but of a people, the fight agains opressions – that to me was more than clear when the village chief tried to represent the pain of his people in a government event and ended up paying for his words – also the importance of respecting the other, the pain they’re going through and many other questions. For this reason, the story ends up being substantial to each one that watches the movie or read the book.
The voyage today might not have been as fun, but I hope you can notice that in this world we live in there are many situations and in some of them we can do something. There are helps that can be sent, donations to be done, volunteering on the community – even if it isn’t in another country: if your community needs it and you’re willing to help, do help!
In this world there are many ways in which we can be present to others. However small the action, in the future it can transform in a great impact – just like William, a 13 year old boy that helped his village in the moment they needed most.
I doubt there aren’t children where he comes from that doesn’t want to be like him.
“Regardless of what you want to do, if you do it with all your heart, it will happen”– The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
To end this post, I leave the movie trailer so you can have a better idea of what it talks about.
I’d like to thank you who got this far on the post. I hope you read it and reflected that there are many situations that children and teens might be going through this moment and shouldn’t have to. I hope you now think there’s always a way to help too: help your community if you can, help in your way and, if it’s needed, if you find a child that is suffering, loosing their innocence, loosing their childhood to a situation that you see yourself forced to interfere, help by reporting it.
No type of act against a child should go unnoticed.
There are situations in which you need to use your voice.
I hope you liked the post – we from the Sisterhood of the Moon wait for your opinion about it! Leave your comment telling us if you liked it too and see you in our next voyage.