Monday, August 16, 2010

Day Six Ramzan - Using Hearts & Brains for Others

Photo here

Dr. Muhammad Yunnus,

"Banker to the Poor"

- including beggars

Today, I'm contemplating the lives, faith and ACTION of certain folk who've made ALL the difference for the voiceless. I'm seeing hearts inspired by others and beyond that the moving of millions other hearts and brains to action...I will only mention two such people today. I don't know where I've been but I only first heard about Dr. Yunus after picking up another of my hundreds of inter-faith books with which to fall to sleep. Under the chapter "Transforming Culture" I read the following facts:

DR. MUHAMMAD YUNUS and empowering people to help themselves

In 1974, Muhammad Yunus was teaching at Chittagong U in Bangladesh and feeling the agony of his newly independent homeland - particularly why the people in a nearby village had to die of hunger. "Was there anything I could do," he asked, "to delay the process or stop it, even for one person?" The larger story is well worth reading and you may already know it. However, in a nut shell, it all started out with this Professor and his students loaning a small amount of $ to 42 villagers who then would pay this $ back when they were ready. He set up an alternative bank which now works with 36,000 villages in Bangladesh, 94 % of them women and the recovery rate is 98%!

Beyond winning a Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Yunus has won a number of other awards worldwide including the World Food Prize,[the Ecuadorian Peace Prize, 26 honorary doctorate degrees, a Bangladesh commemorative stamp and even Houston, Texas declared 14 January as "Muhammad Yunus Day".

He was invited and gave the MIT commencement address delivered on 6 June 2008; Oxford's Romanes Lecture on 2 December 2008; was also voted 2nd in Prospect Magazine's 2008 global poll of the world's top 100 intellectuals;named among the most desired thinkers the world should listen to by the FP 100 (world's most influential elite) in the December 2009 issue of Foreign Policy magazine; awarded the prestigious Presidential Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; on May 15, 2010, Yunus gave the commencement speech at Rice University for the graduating class of 2010; on May 16, 2010, Yunus gave the commencement speech at Duke University for the graduating class of 2010. During this ceremony, he was also awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters and the list goes on...

A documentary on Yunus' work "To Catch a Dollar" was shown at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and is (NOTE)due to be released in theaters in the US on SEPTEMBER 2010. Another documentary film, "Bonsai - Celebrating the Vision of Muhammad Yunus", that looks at both microcredit and his social businesses is slated for release sometime in 2010. (PERHAPS these might be soon available for download in business, media and sociology courses across the world? Here's the link to the Yunus Centre Video Library here

Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh is new to me but I am quite moved by what little I've read so far. Let me start off with a piece by a most inspiring and inspired 25 year-old, Andy Posner (whom through Dr. Yunus, I've just "met" in a way. :) I would add him as a 3rd inspiring person, actually, for this post, watch what HE does with HIS life. I recommend the entire article by Posner, yet here are just a few excerpts

"Ever since I read about Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in 2007 I have been absolutely enthralled with the concept of empowering people to help themselves through access affordable, small loans. After all, my masters thesis deals with green microfinance, and during my time at Brown I have co-founded The Capital Good Fund...So when I heard that Dr. Yunus would be speaking at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, I knew that I could not pass up the opportunity...I went with two other Capital Good Fund staff members, Nabeel and Faiz...Outside of their basketball stadium, a market had been set up where Grameen America’s borrowers were selling their wares--food, purses, jewelry, etc...In their first year of operation, they made 650 loans totalling $1.5 million dollars, with a repayment rate of over 99%.

'Yunus has become my hero, and to see him in person was a truly moving experience. He comes across as extraordinarily regal, patient, humble and passionate...after several other speakers, Dr. Yunus himself stepped onto the stage...The answer is simple: we are working to help realize the vision of a world without poverty, a world in which economic development and environmental stewardship go hand in hand, and a world in which the dreams of any entrepreneur can be realized. It takes time to achieve these goals...(to question asked Yunnas, where would he like to see Grameen America in 3 years) he answered “I would like to see us reach 50,000 people. Why not? The need is there.” That is the kind of passionate, optimistic thinking that enables Grameen to be so successful...

'It would be easy for CGF to remain a tiny organization that serves a handful of individuals every year. But there are 40 million US households that are underbanked or unbanked...there is a massive, unmet need for the services that CGF provides. In order to achieve our mission we must, and we will, grow, expand, innovate and share what we learn until the land of prosperity ensures prosperity for all...We are uniquely positioned to take advantage of our skills, resources and energy to be leaders...

'If all this sounds overzealous, let’s never forget that Yunus started with $26 in loans to 42 Bangladeshi women. From there, he has created an organization that has lent out over $6 billion with an average loan size of around $200. That is absolutely astounding, but when you hear Yunus speak, it had much more to do with listening to the needs of people and working hard to meet those needs than it did with an other-worldly injection of inspiration and genius. In other words, anyone can do what Grameen has done--it is merely a question of time, of patience, of passion and of a willingness to pursue a vision grand enough to solve the problem you are seeking the address.

Now its time to get out there and make it happen.

Read entire "Posner Post" :) here
Here's an earlier post by Andy about his hero here


ABDUL SATTAR EDHI and the Edhi Foundation

Simplicity, humbleness, love, care and modesty: Abdul Sattar Edhi is a personification of all these elements.

Maulana Edhi, as he is often referred to, belongs to the Memon community. However, he always says humanity is my religion and HUMANKIND is my community. A name signifying trust, love, selflessness and sacrifice; EDHI has gone a long way, for sure. Edhi is a philanthropist at heart, indeed.

I've taken above wording from - Learn more about BOTH my featured heroes of today and more at this Pakistani site
here and someday, somebody needs to write about his wife who sounds like quite a heroine in her own right...

Pakistani folk are saying that the best group overall to give money to for flood victims suffering profoundly in their nation is the Edhi Foundation, here are two more references for a bit of a background:

A little blogpost I put together some time ago here

About a documentary in the making here

I sure do intend to revisit this whole venture of compassion and saving lives soon

Find both photos of Maulana Edhi (Honorary Dr. Abdul Sattar Edhi) with others here

1 comment:

learningquranonline said...

Ramadan is the best gift a Muslim could have let us pray for peace in world