Aired Tuesday December 25th, 2007 at 9:00 pm
In the spirit of the holiday season, FRONTLINE/WORLD returns with four encore "stories from a small planet" - inspiring reports of good cheer and gifts that save lives. "A World of Good" airs Tuesday, December 25, at 9 p.m. on KUED-Channel 7.
Uganda: A Little Goes a Long Way
FRONTLINE/WORLD and PRI "The World" reporter Clark Boyd travels to Uganda to see firsthand how a San Francisco-based non-profit called Kiva.org is revolutionizing the world of micro-credit. The concept of Kiva is simple. With just a credit card, a lender in the U.S. can make a loan as small as $25 to a small business in the developing world. What's different about Kiva is that - through the Web - a more direct connection is forged between lender and borrower. A visitor to Kiva's Web site can scroll through pictures and personal stories to choose a particular loan. "There's a human face behind the money," says Kiva lender Olga Espira. "You almost feel like you're building a relationship with that person. You can see the people; you can see what they're trying to do." In Uganda, FRONTLINE/WORLD meets with loan recipients like Grace Ayaa, whose peanut butter business received a micro-loan from Kiva. "I bought the packaging materials with that money," says Ayaa. "I bought more of the produce - the sesame and the peanuts. ... And this really increased my sales. And I feel so happy about that." The loans are small, but they have a big impact in impoverished communities. Matt and Jessica Flannery, the young social entrepreneurs who started Kiva, tell FRONTLINE/WORLD that what began in one village in Uganda has spread to 11 other countries in just more than a year.
When this story first aired in October 2006, it prompted so many people to contribute to Kiva that its Web site crashed. It recovered quickly and has gone on to distribute more than $14 million in loans from more than 143,000 people.
Mexico: The Ballad of Juan Quezada
FRONTLINE/WORLD correspondent Macarena Hernández journeys into the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the rugged region where Pancho Villa and his men once roamed. Most of the villages are now deserted because the timber industry died. But one town, Mata Ortiz, has survived in this desert landscape and even prospered, all because of one man: Juan Quezada. Locals call it "the miracle."
More than 40 years ago, as a poor boy gathering firewood, Quezada stumbled across a cave where he found ceramic pots painted by his ancestors, the Paquime Indians, a culture that died hundreds of years ago. "It took him years of trial and error, but finally Juan Quezada taught himself to make a good copy of the ancient Indian designs," Hernández says.
Eventually, some of his pots ended up in a secondhand store in New Mexico, where an anthropologist and art collector, Spencer MacCallum, found them. MacCallum formed a partnership with the artist and introduced his pottery to an international market. But Quezada wasn't content to achieve fame and fortune only for himself. He wanted to help others in his village become successful potters, as well. "I remembered a proverb my mother used to say: ‘You don't give a fish to the needy; you teach them how to fish.'" Quezada passed on his skills to others, and today, there are hundreds of artisan potters in Mata Ortiz, drawing tourists and their dollars to the town.
MacCallum says Quezada's life is like a fairy tale: "And it doesn't hurt a fairy tale to be true, does it?"
FRONTLINE/WORLD producer Marian Marzynski goes to Poland to witness the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. "Like every child growing up in Poland, I was raised with the music of Chopin," says Marzynski, who is Jewish and survived the Holocaust in Poland as a young boy. "Chopin is a Polish legend woven into the Polish fabric, not only its culture, but its history and politics." Eight hundred young men and women from 19 countries, many from Asia, sign up for the first round of the competition and, over three weeks of successive elimination rounds, a winner is chosen. Success here will launch a worldwide performing career. But how can one decide who plays Chopin best? "The whole idea is to be light, like playing it for the first time," says Adam Harasiewicz, the world-renowned Polish pianist who won this competition 50 years ago and is one of 18 jurors. "It should sound like it is improvised. If Chopin is played academically, ... then Chopin is not alive, and his truth will not come out."
In this competition, Poland has a strong contender for the first time in years, but there are many other talented young pianists vying for top honors, as they each seek to interpret the spirit of Chopin's exquisite music.
South Africa: Clean Water Is Child's Play
In South Africa, FRONTLINE/WORLD reporter Amy Costello investigates a remarkable invention that is revolutionizing the delivery of clean water to poor communities: a schoolyard merry-go-round that powers a water pump. The system supplies a day's water for a village of 2,000 people - through the spontaneous play of school children. This is no small achievement -- in rural villages across South Africa, some five million people do not have access to clean drinking water. With social entrepreneur Trevor Field, Costello visits a small village to document the installation of a new pump. A crew bores 40 meters into the ground until they hit the fresh water table below. Once the pump is in place, dozens of children show up to play - pumping cool, clean water to the surface as they spin.
Since this report first aired on FRONTLINE/WORLD, Play Pumps International has become a celebrity cause. First Lady Laura Bush joined former President Bill Clinton to announce a $16.1 million grant from the Case Foundation and the U.S. government, while rapper Jay-Z has raised $400,000 from his Clean Water concert tour. The goal is to install 4,000 new play pumps across Africa, providing clean water for 10 million people.
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