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July 11, 2007

The Gift Of A Loan

The Gift Of A Loan

Microcredit - the giving of small loans to people with few financial assets - is finally getting the respect it deserves. The idea isn't new. But its increasing popularity is. A case in point is that the current recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, won the prize for pioneering work in microloans.

Demetria Williamson found out about microloans after she suffered an injury that made it impossible for her to stay on in her job as an oncology aide. Not knowing what to do after she lost her job, she went to bed and had a dream. She dreamt about a product that would help chemotherapy patients get affordable and attractive wigs. Demetria talks to Dick Gordon about how microcredit loans built her self-esteem and her business, Blessed Attachments in Yonkers, N.Y.

A Women's Union

Ami Vitale is an award-winning photojournalist who has been based in New Delhi, India for more than five years. Her work has brought her all over central and southern Asia, Europe and Africa.

Last summer, Ami went to a very poor part of Eritrea, where a women's group took the idea of microloans and gave it their own stamp. They provide women with donkeys. Now these women no longer have to haul water or lug firewood for miles. 

One woman, Kadija Anya, has even become a traditional birth assistant now that she's mobile. Ami's conclusion based on what she saw: microloans work. 

Your Story - Richard Watson

Richard Watson called in to tell us a story that has stayed with him since his time in Vietnam.  He was a "forward observer" during the war, which meant he was in charge of navigation. One day, he directed the troops to walk 3,000 paces forward. They followed his lead, even when he directed them to take two paces to the right, then two paces to the left, then two paces to the left again, and continue onwards.  That memory, of battle-weary men detouring through the jungle to protect a mother bluebird, is one he treasures.

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