Clock this: One can do good in any field of endeavor

“One can do good in any field of endeavor.”

( from ‘A writer’s Diary’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1876 )

Trevor Baylis OBE - Supporter of The Climate Change Challenge
From http://www.climatechangechallenge.org/

Clock this: My life as an inventor
by Trevor Baylis

(excerpts)

“Our factory in Cape Town opened in 1995… The words BayGeb Power Manufacturing blared out from a white board in bright-blue lettering three feet high. BayGen is short for Baylis Generators and it was the first time I’d had my name emblazoned on anything…

I had been party to all the plans and knew we were setting up a multi-racial factory employing people of different abilities. But none of our discussions had prepared me for the emotion of seeing our grand plan in action. On the same production line were people of all colours and talents. It was a totally integrated workplace – black, white, brown, male, female, English, Afrikaans, Xhosa… The limbless working next to the blind, deaf people in partnership with the able-bodied, wheelchairs and crutches among the benches, the feeble co-operating with the strong…

It was very humbling. The girl smiling at me there is blind. The bloke sitting at the bench – deaf. Those two guys pushing the heavy trolley have only got two legs between them…

All of them worked with rhythmic precision, chatting and laughing. A few singing along to a Freeplay radio (the name we gave to clockwork radio)…

The factory is partly owned by Disability Employment Concerns, an agency sponsored by the Liberty Life Foundation. They are responsible for training the 35% of the workforce who have handicaps. All the workers – able-bodied and disabled – earn the same and their rates compare well with other factories…

As I walked along the line and chatted to the people making the radios I was overwhelmed by their warmth towards me. “This is the first job I’ve had since I lost my arm,” said one young man clasping my hand in his. “I can go one better,” said the blind girl sitting next to him. “This is the first time anyone ever employed me”…

Walking around the plant was like a tonic. People in Africa have a wonderful capacity for laughter and enjoyment, whatever they are doing. In Britain, we may be better off, but our lives seem harsher and more embittered by comparison. There was more undistilled delight there that morning than I’d met in a long time, and for me it was a reawakening.”

From http://ashleaturner.blogspot.co.nz/

The Clockwork Radio
created by Trevor Baylis

This extremely clever ‘wind-up radio’ was developed by the British inventor ‘Trevor Baylis’ for Third World countries where affordable energy is scarce or non-exsistent. This radio uses no batteries and does not need any electricity to run it. It is powered by an internal clockwork generator, which when fully wound up provides enough electricity for long periods.

The clockwork product is not a new invention. The Victorians used this mechanical system quite extensively. Their clockwork toys incorporated this mechanism. What is innovative is the way in which ‘Baylis’ has used this simple but effective means of creating electricity to both help the people of the Third World and to develop a product which is selling extensively in Western Europe.

The radio has been personally endorsed by Nelson Mandella.

Photo courtesy of Freeplay FoundationFrom http://cuso-vso.netfirms.com

THE END

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:

THE END