Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
The World Economic Forum here in Davos is the kind of place where if you let yourself get distracted while walking by a European prime minister on your left, you could end up tripping over a famous gazillionaire. But perhaps the most remarkable people to attend ... are the social entrepreneurs. Nic Frances runs a group that aims to cut carbon emissions in 70 percent of Australian households over 10 years. His group, Easy Being Green, gives out low-energy light bulbs and low-flow shower heads after the household signs over the rights to the carbon emissions the equipment will save. The group then sells those carbon credits to industry to finance its activities. In the U.S., Gillian Caldwell and her group, Witness, train people around the world to use video cameras to document human rights abuses. The resulting videos have drawn public attention to issues like child soldiers and the treatment of the mentally ill. Now Ms. Caldwell aims to create sort of YouTube for human rights video clips. Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, demonstrated with Grameen Bank the power of microfinancing. His bank has helped raise incomes, secure property rights for women, lower population growth and raise education standards across Bangladesh — and now the success is rippling around the globe. “Politics is failing to solve all the big issues,” said Jim Wallis, who wrote “God’s Politics” and runs Sojourners. “So when that happens, social movements rise up.” A growing number of the best and brightest university graduates in the U.S. and abroad are moving into this area (many clutching the book “How to Change the World,” a bible in the field).
In results that "astounded" scientists, an inexpensive molecule known as DCA was shown to shrink lung, breast and brain tumours in both animal and human tissue experiments. The study was published yesterday in the journal Cancer Cell. "I think DCA can be selective for cancer because it attacks a fundamental process of cancer that is unique to cancer cells," said Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the Edmonton university's medical school and one of the study's key authors. The molecule appears to repair damaged mitochondria in cancer cells. "When a cell is getting too old or doesn't function properly, the mitochondria are going to induce the cell death," lead study author Sebastien Bonnet said yesterday. Bonnet says DCA – or dichloroacetate – appears to reverse the mitochondrial changes in a wide range of cancers. "One of the really exciting things about this compound is that it might be able to treat many different forms of cancer because all forms of cancer suppress mitochondrial function," Michelakis said. Bonnet says DCA may also provide an effective cancer treatment because its small size allows easy absorption into the body, ensuring it can reach areas that other drugs cannot, such as brain tumours. Because it's been used to combat other ailments ... DCA has been shown to have few toxic effects on the body. Its previous use means it can be immediately tested on humans. Unlike other cancer drugs, DCA did not appear to have any negative effect on normal cells. It could provide an extremely inexpensive cancer therapy because it's not patented. But ... the lack of a patent could lead to an unwillingness on the part of pharmaceutical companies to fund expensive clinical trials.
Note: Even these scientists realize that though this discovery could be a huge benefit to mankind, because the drug companies will lose profits, they almost certainly will not fund studies. Expensive AIDS drugs with promising results, on the other hand, are rushed through the studies to market. For more reliable, verifiable information on how hugely beneficial health advances are shut down to keep profits high, click here and here.
When I met 18-year old Patrick Henry Hughes, I knew he was musically talented. I had been told so, had read that he was very able for someone his age and who had been blind and crippled since birth. Patrick's eyes are not functional; his body and legs are stunted. He is in a wheelchair. When we first shook hands, his fingers seemed entirely too thick to be nimble. So when he offered to play the piano for me and his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, I confess that I thought to myself, "Well, this will be sweet. He has overcome so much. How nice that he can play piano." But then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began to race across it -- the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned. The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he would play that there was nothing I could say. All I could do was listen. "God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal." Patrick said, smiling. "He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff." This is Patrick's philosophy in life, and he wants people to know it. "I'm the kind of person that's always going to fight till I win," he said. Patrick also attends the University of Louisville and plays trumpet in the marching band. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges together, decided "Why not?" "Don't tell us we can't do something," Patrick's father added, with a chuckle. He looks at Patrick with a mixture of love and loyalty and admiration, something not always seen in the eyes of a father when he gazes at his son. "I've told him before. He's my hero."
Art graduate Victoria Khunapramot, 26, has brought [remarkable] paintings from Thailand, [including] "self-portraits" by Paya, who is said to be the only elephant to have mastered his own likeness. Paya is one of six elephants whose keepers have taught them how to hold a paintbrush in their trunks. They drop the brush when they want a new colour. Mrs Khunapramot, from Newington, said: "Many people cannot believe that an elephant is capable of producing any kind of artwork, never mind a self-portrait. But they are very intelligent animals and create the entire paintings with great gusto and concentration within just five or 10 minutes - the only thing they cannot do on their own is pick up a paintbrush, so it gets handed to them. They are trained by artists who fine-tune their skills, and they paint in front of an audience in their conservation village, leaving no one in any doubt that they are authentic elephant creations." Mrs Khunapramot, who set up the Thai Fine Art company after studying the history of art in St Andrews and business management at Edinburgh's Napier University, said it took about a month to train the animals to paint.
In the award-winning documentary "Children Full of Life," a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo, learn lessons about compassion from their homeroom teacher, Toshiro Kanamori. He instructs each to write their true inner feelings in a letter, and read it aloud in front of the class. By sharing their lives, the children begin to realize the importance of caring for their classmates. Capturing the intimate moments of the students' laughter and tears, the film explores one teacher's approach to allowing children the opportunity to discover the value of sharing powerful emotions. Classroom discussions include difficult issues such as the death of a parent or being the victim of bullying. In this "school of life," the simple message is learning to look after one another. Following Mr. Kanamori's class for a whole school year, the cameras were kept at the children's eye-level, giving their view of the world as they cope with troubled relationships and the loss of loved ones. Through their daily experiences, viewers see how they develop together a spirit of co-operation and compassion. Children Full of Life was awarded the Global Television Grand Prize at this year's 25th Anniversary Banff Television Festival, the festival's highest honour.
Note: Don't miss this, one of the most inspiring videos on the Internet, available at this link. If you watch nothing but the first five minutes of this touching 40-minute video, you will almost certainly be thankful you did.
Dan Keplinger was born with severe cerebral palsy. But at 30, he's already a successful artist, the subject of an Oscar-winning film called "King Gimp," and he's finishing his second college degree. Keplinger insists on doing everything for himself. To paint, Keplinger wiggles into headgear, then kneels over a canvas, hugging himself tightly to keep his arms from flailing. Many of Keplinger's works are self-portraits or reference his disability. "King Gimp" charts Keplinger's experience in a regular public school, his discovery of art and his entry into college. The 40-minute film won an Oscar in 1999 for best short subject documentary. His art continues to garner fans and critical acclaim. "Many of Keplinger's paintings are in some way autobiographical," [NPR reporter Neda] Ulaby says. "His bearded face flickers from the canvas, the eyes empty hollows. He looks both vulnerable and blank. It isn't easy to separate Keplinger's story from his art." Keplinger explains it simply: "Art... is... my... life."
Note: For one of the most inspiring one-minute videos ever made, watch the clip featuring Dan at this link.
What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one day and denounced all religious violence? What if they unanimously agreed to make this plain, clear and bold statement to the world? “Violence and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” It could change the world. More than 200 leaders of the world’s dozen major religions did get together January 24 in Assisi, Italy. Pope John Paul II and a number of cardinals were at the meeting. So was Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians. So were a dozen Jewish rabbis, including some from Israel. So were 30 Muslim imams from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan. So were dozens of ministers representing Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Disciples of Christ, Mennonites, Quakers, Moravians, The Salvation Army and the World Council of Churches. So were dozens of monks, gurus and others representing Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Zoroastrians and native African religions. They unanimously agreed to condemn “every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” They also said, “No religious goal can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man.” And that “Whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion’s deepest and truest inspiration.” They called their statement the Assisi Decalogue for Peace. Maybe you missed the story. It didn’t even make the newspapers the next day, hidden inside or not. What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one and denounced all religious violence - and no one cared?
Note: Why is it that news about war and terrorism so frequently makes headlines, but the amazing news that leaders of religions from around the world got together to denounce all violence in the name of God and religion did not even warrant an article or story in any major media?
Everybody knows about the spread of war, the rise of AIDS and other diseases, the hopeless intractability of poverty. One survey found that two-thirds of Americans believed that the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has almost doubled over the last 20 years. Another 29 percent believed that the proportion had remained roughly the same. That’s 95 percent of Americans — who are utterly wrong. In fact, the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty hasn’t doubled or remained the same. It has fallen by more than half, from 35 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available from the World Bank). The world’s best-kept secret is that we live at a historic inflection point when extreme poverty is retreating. United Nations members have just adopted 17 new Global Goals, of which the centerpiece is the elimination of extreme poverty by 2030. Their goals are historic. There will still be poor people, of course, but very few who are too poor to eat or to send children to school. Inequality [remains] a huge challenge in the U.S. But globally, inequality is diminishing, because of the rise of poor countries. The challenge now is to ensure that rich donor nations are generous in supporting the Global Goals — but also that developing countries do their part, rather than succumbing to corruption and inefficiency. So let’s get down to work and, on our watch, defeat extreme poverty worldwide. We know that the challenges are surmountable — because we’ve already turned the tide of history.
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A record-breaking distance has been achieved in the bizarre world of quantum teleportation. Scientists teleported photons (packets of light) across a spool of fiber optics 63 miles (102 kilometers) long, four times farther than the previous record. Quantum teleportation relies on the strange nature of quantum physics, which finds that the fundamental building blocks of the universe can essentially exist in two or more places at once. Specifically, quantum teleportation relies on an odd phenomenon known as "quantum entanglement," in which subatomic particles can become linked and influence each other instantaneously, regardless of how far apart they are. Scientists cannot distinguish the state of either particle until one is directly measured, but because the particles are connected, measuring one instantly determines the state of the other. Currently, physicists can't instantly transport matter (say, a human), but they can use quantum teleportation to beam information from one place to another. "What's exciting is that we were able to carry out quantum teleportation over such a long distance," study co-author Martin Stevens, a quantum optics researcher at the NIST in Boulder, Colorado. Quantum teleportation could enable the development of a "quantum Internet" that allows messages to be sent more securely, Stevens said. The scientists detailed their findings ... in the journal Optica.
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Amid a massive corruption scandal which has tarnished Brazil’s political class and driven the country’s president to the brink of impeachment, the Brazilian supreme court has banned corporate donations to candidates and parties in future elections. With eight votes in favour and three against, the court declared late on Thursday that the rules allowing companies to donate to election campaigns were unconstitutional. Rosa Weber, one of the judges who ruled in favour of the ban, argued that undue economic influence comprised the legitimacy of the country’s elections. “The influence of economic power has ended up transforming the electoral process into a rigged political game, a despicable pantomime which makes the voter a puppet, simultaneously undermining citizenship, democracy and popular sovereignty.” According to “The Spoils of Victory”, a US academic study into campaign donations and government contracts in Brazil, corporate donors to the PT in the 2006 elections received between 14 to 39 times the value of their donations in government contracts. The case was brought to the supreme court around one and a half years ago by the Order of Brazilian Attorneys (OAB). On Thursday the organization’s secretary general, Cláudio Pereira de Souza Neto, celebrated the decision. “It is what Brazilian society has been hoping for, even more so in these times of crisis,” he said, adding that the court order should make future elections cheaper.
Note: What do you think might happen if the US and Europe banned corporations from making political contributions? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In much of the developing world, the electrical grid is a rickety, unreliable tangle of wires — if it exists at all. So starting quietly last year, SolarCity created a charity that installs solar arrays, complete with battery packs, at rural schools in developing countries. The GivePower Foundation has lit nearly 1,000 schools so far in Africa and Central America, a number expected to top 1,500 by the end of this year. Each solar and battery system is designed to generate and store enough electricity to light the schools for ... extending class hours. Students and community members can also use the systems to recharge their cell phones, increasingly popular in areas that never had widespread landline phone service. Hayes Barnard, GivePower’s president, says, “In certain parts of the world, there are opportunities to use renewable energy from the get-go. You don’t have to fight the status quo that’s been established around dirty energy.” The foundation aims to light one school for every megawatt of solar power SolarCity installs in the United States (a megawatt is roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 American homes in any given instant). Next up: lighting 200 schools in Nepal, as part of the country’s recovery efforts from this spring’s devastating earthquake. Barnard will participate in that installation project himself. SolarCity recruits its own employees to do much of the installation work abroad, offering the work trips as an incentive for outstanding job performance.
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One of the stories that inspired bestselling author Susan Casey’s new book on the intricate world of dolphins, Voices in the Ocean, is almost too beautiful to be believed. A biologist named Maddalena Bearzi was studying a group of dolphins off the coast of Los Angeles when she noticed something strange. The “pod” (group of dolphins) had just landed upon a herd of sardines. They were about to start feeding when one, unexpectedly, darted off. The rest followed, swimming full speed out to sea. When she reached them, three miles offshore, the pod had a formed a circle - in the middle of it, a girl’s floating body. Very near death, the girl had a plastic bag with her identification and a suicide note wrapped around her neck. With the dolphins' help, she was saved. The first dolphins lived on land. It took them 25 million years to adapt to being in the water. Their bodies shrank and their teeth shrank and their brains got big. They did all kinds of shape-shifting evolutionarily. Their brains grew significantly. It’s fascinating because scientists don’t know why. Most scientists’ main guess is that it was due to their changing social behavior. How did the dolphin know the girl was there? That’s the big question. They don’t rely on vision. I suspect it had something to do with frequency and vibration but of course that’s a guess. We don’t know. They tend to treat us the way they would treat other dolphins. By themselves, they’re vulnerable - to sharks, getting lost, all these things. So when you see dolphins together there is constant touching. They know how to help each other.
A couple in Turkey ... doled out food to 4,000 Syrian refugees for their wedding reception. The bride wore an elaborate white dress, with a tiara perched on her headdress, and the groom sported a white tuxedo with black trim. They stood behind large food trucks distributing meals to hungry Syrians. The couple had decided that instead of hosting their friends and family for a traditional banquet reception, they would feed the victims of a bloody civil war next door. The idea came from the groom’s father, who volunteers for a Turkish relief organization called Kimse Yok Mu (KYM). For the past few years, KYM has distributed daily meals to the thousands of impoverished Syrians who’ve flooded across the nearby border. He approached a representative of the organization and proposed that the family would cover part of the costs of feeding refugees for the day. His son ... was surprised by the prospect, but [was] soon won over. “When he told that to the bride she was really shocked because, you can imagine, as a bride you wouldn’t think about this — it’s all about you and your groom,” says Hatice Avci, the international communications manager for KYM. “In southeastern Turkey there is a real culture of sharing with people in need. They love to share their food, their table, everything they have. That’s why the bride also accepted. And afterwards she was quite amazed about it.” So, they arrived at KYM’s distribution center on Thursday to spend the day serving food and taking photographs with their grateful recipients.
Some 1.3 billion people worldwide live without electricity, affecting health, lowering incomes, and making education difficult. An increasing number of advocates ... are promoting the use of solar power to [increase] access to clean energy across the globe. Solar is a low-cost energy source in the long run, but it has high initial costs. Some solar manufacturers and energy distributors are helping people skirt these up-front costs through creative financing models. In programs such as these, customers can finance their own solar systems for less than what they would otherwise be spending on kerosene ($40-$80 per year on average). Barefoot College developed a training program for grandmothers, who ... learn how to install, maintain, and repair the solar systems and, upon graduation, receive a monthly salary for their work. Solar Sister trains rural African women in sales and entrepreneurship, empowering them to become active participants in the economy while acknowledging that “women invest 90 percent of their income into their family’s well being.” Lighting a Billion Lives trains local entrepreneurs to manage their own solar charging station, from which they rent out solar lamps for a modest price to the local population. The organization also offers microloans and subsidies to facilitate such entrepreneurship. Grameen Shakti (Bangladesh), SolarAid (Africa), and Kamworks (Cambodia) operate with similar values. In this way, solar companies are ... empowering families [and] communities.
His body ravaged by chemotherapy treatments, retired radio engineer John Kanzius spent months in his basement in 2003 cobbling together a makeshift tumor-killing machine. Kanzius had no medical background. He had been a ham radio operator and the owner of a television and radio station company. But he had leukemia, and he did not want to die. He did not know it then, but the John Kanzius's Noninvasive Radiowave Cancer Device ... would eventually make the pages of respected medical journals and attract the support of leading cancer researchers. Dr. Steven A. Curley, an oncologist ... launched Kanzius’s research into the national spotlight and devoted his career to the project. Curley had treated many cancer patients, but [grew] particularly close with Kanzius. In 2009, Kanzius died at 64 from pneumonia while undergoing chemotherapy. Many thought the Kanzius machine would die with him. But this May, Curley filed protocols with the Italian Ministry of Health to test the radio wave machine on humans diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University tested the technology [on] human cancer cells in petri dishes, as well as into tumors in mice, rats, rabbits and pigs. Using the Kanzius machine, they were able to heat [injected] nanoparticles and, as a result, kill all those cancerous cells [while surrounding healthy areas remained intact]. Results were published in the oncology medical journal Cancer, as well as Nano Research.
Note: Learn more about promising cancer treatments that are emerging and why these are frequently overlooked. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Although Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used Christian social ethics ... his enduring ethos, at its core, is nonreligious. It champions a set of moral, spiritual, and civic responsibilities. Nowhere does he transmute spiritual ideas from various traditions into secular principles more masterfully than in his extraordinary 1958 essay “An Experiment in Love.” Penned five years before his famous Letter from Birmingham City Jail ... the essay was eventually included in the indispensable A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.. In the first of the six basic philosophies, Dr. King addresses the tendency to mistake nonviolence for passivity. The second tenet: "Nonviolence ... does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness." In considering the third characteristic of nonviolence, Dr. King appeals to the conscientious recognition that those who perpetrate violence are often victims themselves. Out of this recognition flows the fourth tenet: "Nonviolent resistance [requires] a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation." The fifth basic philosophy [extends from] the noblest use of what we call “love”. With this, he turns to the sixth and final principle of nonviolence as a force of justice, undergirded by the nonreligious "creative force in this universe that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole."
Tired of sharing a single bathroom with his teenage son, Sean Rosas hatched a plan. But ... renovating their broken-down bathroom ... would cost more than what Rosas, the director of volunteer services at a nonprofit, had on hand. That’s when Rosas, 43, stumbled on Lending Club, a website that matches borrowers directly with individual lenders. If you need a loan, the site pulls up your credit score, vets your application within minutes and assigns an interest rate. If enough people sign up to lend, you can get the money in days. More than 250 people chose to back Rosas, giving him a three-year, $16,000 loan at 8.9% annual interest. Rosas, who has made every monthly payment so far, is thrilled with his deal. “It was a much more human experience than if I had gone to a faceless bank,” he says. Peer-to-peer has grown partly as a response to the recession; when credit was tight, traditional banks pulled back on lending, and consumers needed alternatives. Compared with a traditional loan application, Lending Club is blissfully easy. To qualify, borrowers need only an active bank account, a minimum FICO credit score of 660 ... and at least three years of credit history. What lenders are really doing is investing: they’re putting their money in notes backed by the prospective repayment of loans. The sizes of the loans range from $1,000 to $35,000. Investors can buy notes in increments as small as $25. Since its founding in 2006, Lending Club has delivered investors an average annual return of 7.79%–appealing at a time when three-year Treasury bonds average 1%.
Note: Curious about emerging alternatives to traditional banking? Learn more about the inspiring microcredit movement.
Alex Deans has a lot to reflect on this summer. The eighteen-year-old Ontario, Canada native just graduated high school. He’s also changing the way blind people everywhere will be able navigate the world around them. For the past six years, Deans has been working tirelessly on a device now known as the iAid, a navigation system that uses ultrasonic technology and GPS technology to help the visually impaired get where they need to go. The belt-like structure comes with a joy stick and operates using four ultrasonic sensors, which send out sound waves that ricochet off objects and alert the user as to how far away that object is. The idea first came to him at age 12, when he went to help a blind woman across the street. All that was at her disposal was a cane and the option of a guide dog, which is often hard to come by. Dean told Good News Network, “Guide Canes tell you what’s directly in front of you, but they don’t help you figure out where you are in relation your destination and objects that are farther away.” The iAid helps users steer around objects in their vicinity and includes a joystick that swivels in their hands, pointing them in the direction they need to go in. As far as pricing goes, he estimates the device will only cost about $50-$70 per unit, if he can get the cost of materials down. He hopes his invention will one day replace canes and give blind people the ability to maneuver more easily on their own.
Ahh, chocolate. There probably isn't a more magical ingredient on earth than the sweet, dark brown flavoring used for more than 3,000 years. Today most chocolate is consumed in the form of candy. Common sense tells us that too much of something so fatty and full of calories is a bad thing. But a surprising number of studies have found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, decrease blood pressure and help those with chronic fatigue syndrome. The question for many chocolate lovers has been at what point are you having too much of a good thing. That is, is there an optimal "dose" for chocolate eating? A new study published in the journal Heart on Monday looked at the effect of diet on long-term health. It involved 25,000 volunteers and found that the answer to how much chocolate can be good for you is - a lot. Those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who did not consume the confection. The study also noted that more of the participants in the study ate milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate which has long been considered healthier. This might suggest that beneficial health effects may apply to both, the researchers said.
Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the global microfinance movement, is perhaps best known for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Yunus thinks the American Dream — or at least key components of it — is kind of a sham. “It’s the tyranny of employment,” Yunus told me. It’s not the working that he objects to. It’s the idea that so many simply aspire to work for someone else. For him, the idea of employment is the result of an artificial economic system that anoints the few as entrepreneurs and the rest of us workers. The philosophy goes to the heart of Yunus’ lifelong work in microfinance to combat poverty. Since 1997, Grameen Bank, the nonprofit financial institution he founded in Bangladesh, has lent billions of dollars to poor people, mostly women, to start their own businesses. Yunus’ ideas are incompatible with ... the venture capital model. “Some people tell me ‘Not all human beings are entrepreneurs,’” he said. “‘Some have that capability. Others do not have that capability.’ I say ‘Why do you say that? You distort them to make them workers. You already ruined them, giving their mind this idea of job.’” Is a poor woman in Bangladesh who cleans people’s homes any less of an entrepreneur than Mark Zuckerberg? The only difference is that Facebook got millions of dollars in venture capital whereas the woman received a $5 loan from Grameen Bank to buy a vacuum cleaner and a mop. There is no such bank for poor people in America to start businesses, let alone open a savings and checking account.
Note: Read more on the empowering microcredit movement and the inspiring work of Muhammad Yunus.
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