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

Documentary to screen at OAC

Jan. 2, 2013

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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Delafield Block Party: 5 p.m.-12 a.m. July 10, 11, Downtown Delafield. Festival features food and music plus specialty brews and wine. Friday entertainment is The Orphans and The Toys. Saturday hear Up All Night and Rhythm Method. www.chamber.visitdelafield.org

Lake Country Art Festival: 9 a.m. July 11, Naga-Waukee Park, 651 State Road 83, Delafield. The Lake Country Art Festival features more than 100 juried artists from jewelry, paintings, photography, fiber crafts and metal artists. Children’s activities tent, silent auction, entertainment and food services provided by Delafield Brewhaus. There is a $5 donation per carload for parking with all money raised going to local charities and scholarships to graduating seniors.

Sussex Lions Days: July 10-12, Sussex Village Park. Annual event features carnival rides, live music, sport tournaments, sheepshead tournament, bingo, food and beverage booths, pony and camel rides and tractor pull. Fireworks Friday night. Parade at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. www.sussexlions.org

Annual Oconomowoc Arts Center Open House: 6 p.m. July 11, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc. Tom Klubertanz and Andy Zietlow will entertain visitors. Free brats, burgers and hot dogs. Local dance and community service groups will be on hand in the lobby with informational tables. Check out the 2015-16 season line up and take advantage of discounts for early ticket purchases.

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