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'Bonsai People' tells story of how a little help goes a long way

Documentary to screen at OAC

What if you could harness the power of the free market to solve the problems of poverty, hunger and inequality? To some, it sounds impossible, but Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is doing exactly that.

"Bonsai People" celebrates Yunus' extraordinary humanitarian work, which started by lending $27 to 42 people out of his own pocket and has now grown to helping one out of every thousand people on earth. He founded the Grameen Bank to give the poorest of the poor microcredit loans. But he didn't stop there, whenever he sees a problem he starts a business, creating a mix between business and social work, which he coined "social business."

"Poor people are bonsai people, there is nothing wrong with their seed - society never allowed them the space to grow," Yunus explains.

With the social business movement, Muhammad has provided access to healthcare, education and alternative energy to the poor.

This documentary film is an emotionally compelling look at several women receiving microcredit loans and how it empowers them. Through their stories, we see what Yunus saw - microcredit is an important tool, but financial woes are not their only problem - they have needs which simple business solutions can help fulfill.

You will meet Shahnaj, who lost her mother and was married off at age 10. Then there is Melancho who starts the film by being very shy and then gains confidence as she learns to manage her finances. Aroti, is microcredit at its finest. Over the past 15 years, she has created several income streams from selling irrigation water to renting homes. Now, both of her sons attend niversities.

Thanks to Holly Mosher, the documentary film director and producer, this wonderful story unfolds before us. "When I read that Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize, I knew I had another film to make because I have always been committed to telling stories about people who are making

a difference. And here one man who has gone from helping 42 women with $27 dollars to currently helping 8 million," said Mosher.

Mosher is an award-winning filmmaker and an honors graduate of NYU. Her resume includes producing commercials and features prior to her current efforts on documentary film projects like "Bonsai People" that inspire positive change.

Follow the step-by-step process as a new bank branch is being set up. The audience sees what it takes to create microcredit from the ground up. You will meet Sumon, who is the new bank manager.

"A lot of change comes from the social work we do," says Sumon. "The film displays the day-to-day challenges of life with these people. It goes beyond the basis of giving loans."

The film also tackles some of the world's most vexing problems it reaches into the depths of society where healthcare, education, and alternative energy sometimes do have a simple answer.

Your journey to see Muhammad Yunus and his vision will be at the Oconomowoc Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18. A question-and-answer session will held immediately following the viewing of the film with director and producer, Holly Mosher.

Tickets are $7.50 for general seating. Service fees may apply. Tickets are available through the OAC box office. Stop in during regular business hours or call the office at (262) 560-3172. Tickets are also available through the website: www.theoac.net.

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