History tells us there is quite a lot that a regular person can do. Take the case of Muhammad Yunus. In 1974, Yunus was a young Economics lecturer at a university in Bangladesh. One day, he saw scores of ill-looking men, women and children on the streets. Over the next few days, he saw more and more of such people. A number of them had died.
Yunus realized what had happened: For some months, famine had struck the land. People were dying of hunger. When it rained, it came in torrents, only to destroy whatever crops that had survived. The poor villagers had come to the cities, only to find there was nothing to eat there either. Yunus wondered, “How could people suffer so much?” He tried to erase the images of the suffering people but could not. Yunus was so disturbed that he and a group of students went out to visit the nearest village. They met a lady weaving baskets. Yunus asked, “Who buys your baskets, Ma’am?”
“The money lender,” the lady said. “I borrow the money to buy the things I need. Then I sell the baskets back to him at a price he chooses.” Yunus went to the next house where a lady was making handicrafts and the next and was told the same story. He discovered that, at the rate the poor people borrowed money from the money lenders and paid them back, these poor people would never earn enough to free themselves of debt. They were slaves for life. But the greatest shock for Yunus was when he realized that all it took for a poor woman to be free of debt was less than US$1. That day, Yunus and his students spoke to 42 poor women and their families.
Yunus went to one bank after another to ask if any of them could help these families. None was interested. Finally, Yunus took out US$27 from his own pocket and divided it among the 42 women. He told them, “Pay me back when you can.” He did the same thing to other poor families in more villages and to his surprise, the borrowers paid him back each time. Today, Muhammad Yunus’s efforts have become the Grameen Bank, a bank that specializes in helping the poor. The same system is now applied to more than 50 countries over the world. Yunus’s personal act of conscience sent wake-up calls throughout the world. People who have never met Yunus are affected by his singular action. It is part of the ripple effect, a concept children need to hear.
Perhaps, after your child heard this story, he will say, “But Yunus was someone. He was a university Professor.” Well, aren’t each of us someone? There were many other professors like Yunus (and wealthier men too) when he began the project. Yet, nobody took the initiative to do something like he did. Telling stories on the power of one, of how one regular person can change the world, can spur demotivated children to rethink the way they view themselves. You do not have to be someone big to make a difference in this world. The world needs everyday heroes just as Muhammad Yunus has shown. All he did was to do the right thing.
Help your child understand the ripple effect. Regular children can be heroes, too, by always choosing to do the right thing and by giving their personal best at each moment in their lives. Attentive children make teaching meaningful for teachers, and a happier day at school translates into happier families when the teachers get home. They treat their children better. Which means how you behave at school does make for a better or a worse world. What one does has far-reaching implications to the rest of the world. Does your child know the difference he can make just by giving his personal best? Relate the story of how a regular person makes a difference by doing the right thing. It doesn’t have to be a famous personality. It can be someone you know.