In his book titled, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, Muhammad Yunus states:
To me, the poor are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a six-inch-deep flower pot, you get a perfect replica of the tallest tree, but it is only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted; only the soil-base you provided was inadequate.
Poor people are like bonsai people. There is nothing wrong with the seeds. Only society never gave them a base to grow on. All that is required to get poor people out of poverty is for us to create an enabling environment for them. Once the poor are allowed to unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly.
As mentioned in our last “Through Our Eyes” post, we want to ponder some reasons that poverty persists, especially in Moshi, Tanzania. We have been in Moshi two weeks now and we’ve seen several reasons that may contribute. It is currently the rainiest month of the year in Moshi. It rains almost every night and sometimes during the day. The country is run on hydroelectric power so rain is good for electricity, but it is not good for the roads. Please see the photos below for an example of what a typical road looks like in the rainy season.
We were driving to a day center Friday afternoon with one of the BCC staff and we ran into a bridge that was broken so we could not cross. We turned around and tried to go down a different road, but we found a swampy area of the road that the car could not cross, even in 4-wheel drive. John ended up helping the staff member by backing up the car so that we could turn around again since we could not continue on the road. The video shows this effort and also shows some of the road condition (unfortunately we didn’t get footage of the swampy area). In short, the roads prevented us from going to this day center and we were in a 4-wheel drive vehicle! This is not an uncommon situation in Moshi due to most of the roads being dirt. This situation is merely one small example of how challenging life can be in this part of the world. A day can be planned, but an individual can be severely limited due to something as simple as road conditions.
In the USA, road construction can be inconvenient. It may detour us from the quickest route to work or delay traffic for 30 minutes, or so. The least traveled country roads can be a bit rough at times, and severe weather may cause a traveler to take an alternate route. Very rarely does a road condition completely halt us from accomplishing what we need to achieve in a particular day, not to mention for an entire season!
Yunus states it perfectly when he says, “Poor people are like bonsai people. There is nothing wrong with the seeds. Only society never gave them a base to grown on.” The people of Moshi are incredible, but many have never been given a base to grown on. Between the roads being washed out, the unreliable power, and the constant disease from water, mosquitoes, etc., we are starting to understand how people become stuck in the cycle of poverty. Everyone is always active in the community, working in the fields or in their place of business, and moving about with a smile on their face and an appreciation for work. Yet, often conditions do not foster economic growth. We have many examples of the dedicated effort so many individuals put forth. Please stay tuned to the blog for inspiring stories about individuals we encounter.