Internationally, the definition for absolute poverty is living on an income of under $1 a day. But the Chinese government has a lower threshold: the definition for poverty in China is living on 66 cents a day. Out of a total Chinese population of 1.3 billion, there are 42 million Chinese who are poor.
This episode of Life looks at a scheme which is helping poor people break out of the cycle of poverty and ignorance -- by providing them with small loans, basic health information, education...and hope.
In Wang San Ping village, near the Chinese border with Burma, in the southwest of Yunnan province, Yu Gui Hua and her friend Hu Zang Hua have used their loans from the scheme to build plastic greenhouses to grow vegetables all year round. They've repaid the first loans, and have even more ambitious plans for the second loan they're going to take out: this time, Yu Gui Hua has her sights set on a guest house, a car park -- even a restaurant.
But the micro-credit scheme, funded by UNICEF in China, does more than help women on to the first, vital step of the economic ladder. It also helps them gain friends, basic knowledge on how to improve their health -- and, crucially, self-esteem. As 83-year-old Ji Ki Ren Di, a woman from the Bai Yi caste in Mei Gu, a clan-based slave society until 1956, sums her situation up: "I was born a slave and was forced to live in a grass shed....Now we live in a solid house. I don't think that I can live much longer, but I have lived long enough to see my family free. Now every day is a little better..."
The producer of this program has collected extensive resources at www.tve.org/life/archive/life19main.html
The other titles in the series are:
1. Life: The Story So Far - How the globalized world economy affects ordinary people.
2. Geraldo Off-Line - Globalized economy affects Brazilian factory worker.
3. From Docklands to Dhaka - English MD travels to Bangladesh to improve community health.
4. An Act of Faith: The Phelophepa Health Train - A group of health professionals tours the most deprived regions of South Africa providing care.
5. The Philadelphia Story - Globalized economy affects American jobs.
6. The Boxer - Young male looks to escape Mexican poverty by becoming a boxer in the United States.
7. The Seattle Syndrome - Were the WTO protesters right in their effort to protect workers and the environment from exploitation?
8. The Right to Choose - Women are denied human rights in Ethiopia and northern Nigeria.
9. At the End of a Gun: Women and War - The devastating effect that the civil war in Sri Lanka is having on women.
10. The Summit - The UN General Assembly meets to review progress on social justice worldwide.
11. All Different, All Equal - Examines progress in women's rights globally.
12. India Inhales - Activists combat tobacco companies that target India.
13. The Silver Age - Growing population of elderly worldwide seeks purpose and care.
14. The Cost of Living - AIDS drugs unaffordable in developing countries.
15. The Posse - Rap group in Sao Paulo, Brazil, expresses social problems.
16. Credit Where Credit is Due - Micro-credit organization in Bangladesh provides loans to village poor.
17. Regopstaan's Dream - Bushmen fight to live on ancestral land in South Africa.
18. Untouchable? - The caste system and bonded labor are still alive and well in India.
20. For a Few Pennies More - Iodine deficiency causes health problems in Indonesia.
21. In the Name of Honour - Kurdish women fight for their rights in Northern Iraq.
22. God Among the Children - Community organization works with at-risk youth in Boston.
23. Without Rights - Palestinians are denied human rights.
24. Lost Generations - Poor health and poverty condemn people in India to sub-standard lives.
25. Educating Lucia - The odds are against girls getting an education in Zimbabwe and throughout much of Africa.
26. A-OK? - Examines prospects for Vitamin A distribution programs in Guatemala and Ghana necessary for children's health.
27. Bolivian Blues - Explores the success of new initiative to reduce widespread poverty.
28. The Outsiders - Explores the moral and economic dilemmas that adolescents face in the Ukraine today.
29. The Debt Police - Uganda seeks external debt relief and fights internal corruption.
30. The On-going Story - Final episode examines the international community's commitment to linking social and economic development with human rights.
NOTE: A second series called City Life is now available.
Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2000
Copyright Date: 2000
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-483-4
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-853-7
"Gambling a few dollars in loans has helped China's rural poor hit the jackpot."
Timothy McGettigan, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern Colorado