You can START SMALL to make a BIG DIFFERENCE

“Anyone can make a difference, so you don’t have to have it be some huge, global campaign… you can start small, and that’s just as important.”

Blake Mycoskie


Muhammad Yunus
From http://nobelpeaceportraits.com

In 1974, a terrible famine swept through Bangladesh, a nation struggling in the aftermath of a devastating war for independence. Millions of starving people began to migrate from the remote villages of the north to the cities farther south in search of food.

In one such city, Chittagong, lived a thirty-four-year-old economics professor named Muhammad Yunus, who had recently returned from the United States, where he had gone as a Fulbright scholar to obtain his PhD in economics. As Yunus watched the growing influx of starving humanity, he began to feel a huge disconnect between what he was teaching his students at the University of Chittagong and what he was seeing on the streets: the skeletal bodies and vacant eyes of thousands of people literally starving to death. Heartsick and determined to find some way to help, he decided to begin with the poor people in the small neighboring village of Jobra.

ELCA Archives image1974 famine in Bangladesh

As Yunus visited these people, he discovered that most of the “poorest of the poor” were widowed, divorced, or abandoned women who were desperately trying to feed their children. Because they didn’t have money to buy supplies, they were forced to borrow from “traders” and they sell their products back to them for a pittance.

A woman with three children, for example, would borrow 5 taka (about 22 cents) to buy bamboo. After working from morning until night to weave the bamboo into a stool, she was forced to repay her loan by selling the stool to the traders for 5 taka and 50 poysha (about 24 cents). That left her a profit of only 2 cents a day, barely enough to keep her and her children alive.

Bangladesh Famine 1974

Like many others in the villages of Bangladesh, this woman was stuck in a cycle that ensured that she and her children would remain in poverty for generations. As an economist, Yunus realized that the only way she could break out of the cycle would be to somehow get the five taka to buy her bamboo so that she could sell her stools for the full retail price in a free market. But there was no one who would loan her the capital at a reasonable rate.

As he searched throughout the tiny village of Jobra, he found that there was a total of forty-two people – stool makers, mat weavers, rickshaw drivers, and so on – who were all dependent on the traders…. In the end, Yunus loaned those forty-two people the money because no one else would, with the simple instructions to pay it back, without interest, when they could… Thus began a new era in Yunus’s life – and in the lives of the poor of Bangladesh…

grameen-bank-logoFrom http://tipsboss.com

Although Yunus had no intention of going into banking himself, he ended up doing so… He studied how other banks set up their loan operations, and then he set up a bank, the Grameen [“rural” or “village”] Bank, that did the exact opposite. Whereas other banks tried to delay the borrowers’ repayment as long as possible in order to increase the amount of the loan (making it hard for people to pay), Yunus instituted a daily payment program of very small amounts. He set up support groups and established incentives to encourage borrowers to help one another succeed. And at a time when the banks of Bangladesh effectively excluded women from ever being able to secure a loan, he set the goal that half of Grameen Bank borrowers would be women.

Bangladesh Famine 1975

In his book Banker to the Poor, he described a typical Grameen borrower in the early days as she walked from the bank with her loan – typically about $25  in hand:

“All her life she has been told that she is no good, that she brings only misery to her family, and that they cannot afford to pay her dowry. Many times she hears her mother or her father tell her she should have been killed at birth, aborted, or starved. To her family she had been nothing but another mouth to feed, another dowry to pay. But today, for the first time in her life, an institution has trusted her with a great sum of money. She promises that she will never let down the institution or herself. She will struggle to make sure that every penny is paid back.”

Woman
From http://pepbonet.com

Contrary to almost everyone’s expectations, an amazing 98 percent of Grameen Bank borrowers to pay back their loans. (In comparison, the payback rate on a traditional small-business loan is 88 percent.)…

With a growing desire to eliminate poverty on a larger basis, Yunus moved ahead step by step – learning, making mistakes, and adapting to increasing number of people in his vision – people in banking, government, and other related industries. Through Yunus’s leadership, Grameen Bank continued to expand its reach and impact, and to date the organization has made more than $6 billion in loans to more than 8 million borrowers in Bangladesh, 97 percent of whom are women…. In 2006 Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to lift tens of millions of people out of poverty.

From ‘Smart Trust’ by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link

Poem

From http://emilysquotes.com

Related posts:

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Write to create a better world

“Don’t write to escape your world, instead write to create a better one.”

Cliff Harrison

From http://www.wisewomantradition.com

Some might consider writing and reading a waste of time. Is that really so? Or can we create a better world via reading, writing and blogging?

As Steven Pinker points out in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes, “Reading is a technology for perspective-taking. When someone else’s thoughts are in your head, you are observing the world from that person’s vantage point. Not only are you taking in sights and sounds that you could not experience firsthand, but you have stepped inside that person’s mind and are temporarily sharing his or her attitudes and reactions. As we shall see, “empathy” in the sense of adopting someone’s viewpoint is not the same as “empathy” in the sense of feeling compassion toward the person, but the first can lead to the second by a natural route…

Adopting other people’s vantage points can alter one’s convictions in other ways. Exposure to worlds that can be seen only through the eyes of a foreigner, an explorer, or a historian can turn an unquestioned norm (“That’s the way it’s done”) into an explicit observation (“That’s what our tribe happens to do now”). This self- consciousness is the first step toward asking whether the practice could be done in some other way…”

love-book

From Slush Pile Empathy

By spreading positive ideas via our blogs, we can combat harmful viruses of the mind and develop empathy and compassion. By exchanging our thoughts and experiences, we can learn from each other, identify personal biases, and improve individual and cultural practices.

As Noam Chomsky once said, “”There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education…, action… – and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.”

Let’s use our creativity to make this world a better place for everyone.

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The Power of Touch

From http://shareinspirequotes.tumblr.com

In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.

The benefits of touch start from the moment we’re born. A review of research, conducted by Tiffany Field, a leader in the field of touch, found that preterm newborns who received just three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day for 5-10 days gained 47 percent more weight than premature infants who’d received standard medical treatment.

From http://www.lookymommy.com

As Kelly Bartlett points out, being regularly physically affectionate with kids of all ages helps maintain the emotional connection they share with their parents. When that bond remains strong, challenging behavioral situations decrease and discipline becomes less intense overall.

From http://www.everydayfamily.com

Games involving person-to-person contact (e.g. horsey rides, piggy back rides, wrestling, tag etc.)  promote the release of positive brain chemicals and bring families closer together in a fun, physical way.

How To Advise A Couple Starting A FamilyFrom http://www.investopedia.com

As children grow and become more independent and social, opportunities for cuddling naturally diminish, and it becomes important for parents to take extra effort to find ways to physically connect with them. Reading to a child or even watching a movie on the couch is a wonderful way to get close, as it invites leaning into, lying on, snuggling, touching, and arm-wrapping.

From http://hopesays.wordpress.com

And educators, take note: A study by French psychologist Nicolas Gueguen has found that when teachers pat students in a friendly way, those students are three times as likely to speak up in class.


From http://seattletimes.com

Touch is very important for adults too. According to scientists, touch reduces both physiological and perceived stress; touch causes one’s stress hormones, such as cortisol, to decrease while causing other hormones, like oxytocin, to increase which promote social bonding and wellness.

Happy friends
From http://www.oprah.com

According to Dacher Keltner, touch is our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion. In fact, in his research he has found that people can not only identify love, gratitude, and compassion from touches but can differentiate between those kinds of touch, something people haven’t done as well in studies of facial and vocal communication.


From http://www.artofmanliness.com

Interestingly enough, two gender differences have been identified in Dacher Keltner’s research:

  • when a woman tried to communicate anger to a man via touch, he got zero right—he had no idea what she was doing!
  • when a man tried to communicate compassion to a woman via touch, she didn’t know what was going on!

 The Gender Dictionary helps resolve arguments and relationship problems caused by gender communication differences.
From http://genderdictionary.drkarengaillewis.com/

It might seem surprising, but touch may mean more to men than they let on: A 2011 study by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction polled more than 1,000 men and their female partners in five countries about the power of touch and found that for men between the ages of 40 and 70, regular cuddling was more important than sex. The more men hugged and kissed, the happier they considered their relationships.


From http://sarahjwatsonmassagetherapy.tumblr.com/

There are times—during intense grief or fear, but also in ecstatic moments of joy or love—when only the language of touch can fully express what we feel. This video is an invitation for people to relearn the power of touch. There’s much to be gained from embracing our tactile sense—in particular, more positive interactions and a deeper sense of connection with others.

Did you touch someone today?

😉

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Heroism and Compassion: John Rabe

Test

Heroes in real life rarely look like the all-mighty supermen or superwomen from books and movies. They might speak different languages, live in different parts of the world, wear different clothes, belong to different generations.  What is common between all heroes is their belief, that with their microscopic efforts and stubborn persistence they can make this world a better place; their devotion to something bigger than them.

On my blog I like collecting stories of compassions featuring real heroes. My collection includes a few stories from the World War 2, such as:

However heroism and compassion are not confined to wars, as demonstrated by numerous examples from all over the world, including the following:

Over the Christmas holidays I was reading diaries of John Rabe (November 23, 1882 – January 5, 1950) – a German businessman who is best known for his efforts to stop the atrocities of the Japanese army during the Nanking Occupation and his work to protect and help the Chinese civilians during the event. Truly amazing man whose brave actions touched my heart.

220px-JohnRabeFrom Wikipedia

According to Erwin Wickert, the editor of John Rabe’s diaries, “John Rabe was a simple man who wanted to be no more than an honest Hamburg businessman. He was always ready to help, was well-liked, showed good common sense, and maintained a sense of humor even in difficult situations, especially then… He earned people’s highest admiration for the way that his love of his neighbor, of his Chinese fellow men in their plight, grew and ourgrew itself, for the way he not only rescued them as a Good Samaritan, but also displayed political savvy, a talent for organisation and diplomacy, and unflagging stamina in their cause. Working closely with American friends and often at the risk of his life, he built a Safety Zone in Nanking that prevented a massacre and offered relative security to 250,000 Chinese during the Japanese occupation… He was highly praised by his friends, revered as a saint by the Chinese, respected by the Japanese, whose acts of misconduct he constantly resisted. And yet he remained the same modest man he had been before, who nevertheless could lose all his gentle humility when he saw wrong being committed.”

It is impossible to fully comprehend the significance of Rabe’s heroic actions without knowing all the atrocities committed by Japanese during Nanking Massacre, that killed hundreds of thousands of people. An accurate estimation of the death toll in the massacre has not been achieved because most of the Japanese military records on the killings were deliberately destroyed or kept secret shortly after the surrender of Japan in 1945. That makes Rabe’s diaries particularly important.

In his diaries Rabe documented Japanese atrocities committed during the assault upon and occupation of the city. Nanking was a true hell on earth at that time. Below are just a few examples of what John Rabe saw with his own eyes in Nanking over those weeks:

“The Japanese March in: the atrocities begin… We saw how the Japanese had tied up some thousand Chinese out in an open field… They were forced to kneel and were then shot in the back of the head.”

“Dr. Wilson used the opportunity to show me a few of his patients [at Kulou Hospital]… Among them, a civilian with his eyes burned out and his head totally burned, who had gasoline poured over him by Japanese soldiers. The body of a little boy, may be seven years old, had four bayonet wounds in it, one in the belly about as long as your finger… I have had to look at so many corpses over the last few weeks that I can keep my nerves in check even when viewing these horrible cases… I wanted to see these atrocities with my own eyes, so that I can speak as an eyewitness later. A man cannot be silent about this kind of cruelty!”

ChildChild killed in the massacre

“As we learned from on of the survivors, they were taken to a vacant house, robbed of all valuables and clothes, and when completely naked, tied up together in groups of five. Then the Japanese built a large bonfire in the courtyard, led the groups out one by one, bayoneted the men and tossed them still alive on the fire…”

“At the American Mission Hospital women are constantly being admitted… who have suffered grave bodily harm from rape committed by packs of men, with the subsequent infliction of bayonet and other wounds. One women had her throat slit half-open… Many abused girls still in their childhood have likewise been admitted to the hospital… On 12 January, my English colleague, Consul Prideaux-Brune… visited the house of Mr. Parsons of the British-American Tobacco Company and discovered there the body of a Chinese woman into whose vagina an entire golf club had been forced.”

NankingRape victims. Nanking.

“While we were aboard the British gunboat Bee… the Japanese rear-admiral Kondo declared to Holt, the British admiral, that on a large island downstream from Nanking there were still 30,000 Chinese soldiers who would have to be removed. This removal or “mopping up”, as it was called in Japanese communiques, consists of murdering what are now defenseless enemies and is contrary to fundamental principles of humane warfare. Besides mass executions by machine gun fire, other more individual methods of killing were employed as well, such as pouring gasoline over a victim and setting him afire…”

Nanking_bodies_1937Massacre victims

Humane warfare? Is there such a thing?
What can be humane in a warfare?

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Filling Empty Minds

Teach your children
From Motivational and Inspirational Quotes

Each one of us starts empty,
Just waiting to be filled,
With love and words
And things we learn;
The empty space is killed.

Displaced with all the good things,
And sometimes with the bad,
We learn from
Those around us
And the special times we’ve had.

When we are still quite empty,
In our younger years,
It’s easy for us,
To fill up,
With love and hope and fears.

It means the young are easy led,
And learn things very fast,
But bad times leave,
A dirty mark,
Even when long passed.

When spending time with young friends,
We need to think about,
The lessons that
We’re teaching them:
They’re quicker in than out.

There’s positives within this,
Because those younger minds,
Will grow and flourish
Happily
When watered with good times.

by Pooky H

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