Frontline World

About the Series


TITLE:  From the Producers of FRONTLINE

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight on FRONTLINE/World, three Stories from a Small Planet.


(Scene of fighting outside Kandahar)

ANNOUNCER: In Afghanistan, NATO has launched a new offensive against the Taliban...

Gen Richards:  Do you think we came here to kill anybody?

 ANNOUNCER:…the battle it can’t afford to lose.

 McDonald:  They can take the food, share amongst themselves.

ANNOUNCER:… a fight for hearts and minds.

McDonald:  Tell him to share, or I’ll take it all away.

ANNOUNCER: In Uganda…small businesses find a new source of micro-credit – person-to-person, on the internet.

Nathan: The loan amount she asked for $475 for starting up a peanut butter business.

Donna: You get to choose the specific businesses you want to loan to so it’s very personal. You have a real connection with where your money’s going and what it’s being used for.

ANNOUNCER: Finally, in Paraguay…

Szaran:  humming with a young student

ANNOUNCER: How music is changing the lives of poor children…

(Trio playing)

SHOW TITLE:  FRONTLINE/World: Stories from a Small Planet


ANNOUNCER:  Frontline/World is made possible by Shell, supporting freedom of the press and the independent journalists who tell the stories of our times.


ANNOUNCER: And by the Skoll Foundation…

ANNOUNCER: And by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

(Opening graphics)

Afghanistan: THE OTHER WAR

(music up)

(map zoom out)



(Footage of 2006 NATO offensive)

Soldier: I mean you can see clearly where they were firing at us – from here.

A year ago in Afghanistan, the Taliban surprised everyone by launching a spring offensive. 

Solider:  …prongs are on that post – that’s where we were shooting from yesterday.

(gun shots)

It was an attempt to take back their former stronghold in Kandahar.

Soldier: Take that first crew across! Get across!

(footage of fighting)

NATO forces counterattacked and through a summer and fall of heavy fighting, finally drove the Taliban back.  Reportedly killing up to a thousand fighters.

(CU soldier, helicopters)

In November, I returned to Afghanistan to report on the winter campaign from a remote NATO outpost North of Kandahar.

Sam: This is the command post of forward operating base Martello.  There are 120 Canadian troops here, the only NATO soldiers between here and Kandahar City, 120 kilometers away.


After a summer of combat, this small Canadian force had been sent here to guard the main road to Kandahar.

Their intelligence says hundreds of Taliban are still operating in the hills surrounding their base.

Even with their heavy artillery, air cover and high tech surveillance, these soldiers feel threatened.

Voice:  Where’d that Shepherd go?

Soldier: He’s still down there with his flock

(sheep on hillside)

Six Afghans were seen on this ridge 3 kilometers away.  The Canadians suspect they are spying on the base.

Soldier:  What’s that?  They got them?

Intercepted Taliban radio traffic suggests there were injuries from the shelling – but no one knows for sure.

Just as I arrived at Fort Martello the Canadian soldiers were given another mission.

The new orders had come with Sergeant Nicola Bascon.

Nicola has come with plans to move the soldiers beyond their razor wire and make friends for NATO by helping local civilians.

They begin with their closest neighbors in el Baq, a small village of some 30 families right next to the base.

(Nicola meeting with villagers)

She offers to fix the village’s generators and water pumps and to hand out basic supplies.

Nicola:  Can you let him know that we’re still working on his generators and we plan to have them back within 2-3 days because we’re still trying to find parts. On the upside, you can let him know that within a week he should be receiving some more material aid.  He asked for corn, he asked for beans, he asked for fertilizer and wheat.

This area was part of the original Taliban homeland. Nicola knows she’s only got a short period of time to break what influence they still have here.  A new Taliban offensive is expected in the spring.   By then, she wants this village to be firmly on NATO’s side.

Translator:  They have problem with water, because we are taking water for the drinking from this water. 

Nicola:  I know, and we’re working on it, and I understand his problem and his needs and, again, I’m going as fast as I possibly can to get them the help that they need. 

Translator:  He says what about the reservoir which Abdullah demanded from you guys.

Nicola:  Demanded from us? 

Translator:  Yeah from you guys, Abdulla.

Man:  Reservoir?

Translator:  Yeah, he told you he needed razor wire…

Man:  Razor wire!

Nicola:  Yeah, we’re working on that, in a week’s time we’re going to have more material assistance out here for them, and razor wire will be included so that his goats don’t run away. 

The push to help the people in villages like el Baq comes directly from NATO headquarters.

In Kabul, the commander, British general David Richards, tells me his  focus on civilian aid projects is as important as the military campaign .

Richards: We need to demonstrate to the vast majority of the population who want us and their government to succeed that we can beat the enemy. This is particularly important in Afghanistan but we also need to demonstrate unequivocally that with that will come lost of good things and that’s why we get in this hearts and minds thing.

(Helicopter at airport)

To win over the Afghans,  Richards is  determined to speed up local development projects.  He plans to expand the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams or “PRT”s.

(Richards on Helicopter)

Today, he’s off to open a new PRT in Nuristan, a province on the border with Pakistan.

Richards:  We are in a historical role here.  If we screw up and Afghanistan ploughs it, yeah we’ll all know about it in a historical sense.  If we succeed,  I wonder, I’ll be a little footnote somewhere in someone’s book.  I’m not going to be in one of those screw up history books.   At least I hope I’m not.

Nuristan is one of the most dangerous places in the country. The Taliban and al Qaeda still dominate these hills.

Overhead NATO deploys B1 bombers, A10 tankbusters, and Apache attack helicopters to protect its commander.

(Richards at press conference)

Richards:  I am delighted to be here to mark the opening of another PRT in what has been a troubled area of Afghanistan  And defeat the repression and misery offered by the Taliban. And I ask that the people of Nuristan Province welcome and work with the troops, They are here as we all are to help Afghanistan to rebuild itself after the many years of instability and destruction.

Translator: And we hope that the peace and security will come in Afghanistan.

Richards: Teamwork. Teamwork.

Afghan: Teshakur

Richards Teshakur. Bye bye.  Thank you very much. Take care.

Back at Fort Martello, the Canadians are waiting for a convoy from Kandahar with supplies for the village of el Baq.

(Meeting at night in tent.)

Nicola:  Also another thing to keep in mind is the jingle truck that’s coming up in the next as well in the next convoy so when that comes up again, we’re just going to get out to the village.

Nicola has promised the villagers she’ll repair their water pumps.

Nicola:  If I can accomplish all those three things within the next two weeks, my mission is complete.

But when the convoy does arrive, there’s a snag.  A sniffer dog smells explosives on one of the civilian trucks.

(Man whistles)

Man:  Whoa!  Stop.  One minute…

Man: The dog picked up a scent. Which means he’s going to have to turn round, drive back to KAF with a full load and then explain to his contractor back in KAF why his truck’s not unloaded.

Man:  That’s the driver of the blue Seacan.  They decided they didn’t want any of the trucks to come in even though they hit off the one.

(CU dog)

Man:  I trust the dog.  If the dog says that there’s something there, I trust the dog.

Nicola:  It’s just a big piss off, you know, being told over the past couple of days that this stuff was coming up and you want to the spread good word to the people of the village …we’re not going to have enough time to sort out this stuff and it’s just going to be one big frigging mess.

Without new spark plugs and spare parts, Nicola cannot deliver on her promise to fix the water pumps.  So Martello’s commander decides to send out a patrol into enemy territory to go shopping.

Abthorpe:  It’s a low key day.  We’ve got a patrol going out, PRT will be going with that, Got to find some spark plugs.  Gotta be somebody must know something about where to get parts. We now have authority to spend money.  So that patrol goes out tomorrow.  Rough time for that?

Voice: We’re gonna have a briefing in here – 08?

Abthorpe: Yeah.

The spark plug mission involves a platoon of 20 men in four armoured vehicles driving 100 miles each way, down a highway that is sewn with Taliban mines and often attacked by suicide bombers.

Abthorpe:  This particular platoon here on the line, and myself, we were on our way back to KAF and we got hit by a suicide bomber. The bomber hit Capt Patten’s vehicle and showered my vehicle with all kinds of stuff, that particular incident keeps re-playing over in the mind, with the guys who’ve been wounded they’ve been wounded before in combat, in the same spot,

The Canadians have already lost over 40 men in Afghanistan.

Voice:  Get out of the way.  

They finally arrive at this truck stop outside Kandahar City  It’s a regular target of suicide bombers.  There was a 500% increase in such attacks last year. The soldiers treat every approaching car as a potential threat.

(gun shot)

Meanwhile, Nicola is told there are no spark plugs for sale here.

Nicola:  There’s no place here that we can buy them, we need to find out if there’s a specific spot in Kandahar City that we can go and purchase this stuff from.

(halt: gun shot)

(Nicola points gun at men on motorcycle)

Jim: So you want me to go into town to see if I can get parts?!  Sir, isn’t there sort of some sort of supply chain that the PRT can use to do that?  … as soon as we stop we’re pretty vulnerable, that’s the problem.

Jim:  OK I’ll pass that message on, but…

Nicola:  What did he say?

Jim: We’re not going to Kandahar…

Nicola:  I knew that.

After forty tense minutes, the spark plug mission is abandoned, and the patrol heads back to Fort Martello empty handed.

The Canadian patrol is still wary.  If they sense an oncoming vehicle is a threat --driving too fast or too close --they do as they are trained and fire a warning shot.

One of these shots causes a heavily loaded pickup to roll over in the ditch.

(Accident scene)

An Afghan passenger is badly hurt… there’s a deep gash on his head and his leg is severely injured.

(Injured passenger)

Our camerman, Jim Foster, a highly trained former British soldier, moves into help the Canadian medic.

A medevac chopper is called in to airlift the wounded man to a military hospital in Kandahar.

For Canadian platoon twenty-two, today can hardly be chalked up as a success in their campaign to win over the Afghans.

Jim:  Another outstanding day at 2-2.

(NATO headquarters)

At NATO headquarters, General Richards is struggling with his own setbacks.

James:  Hello Sir… a rules of engagement escalation in which two locals were unfortunately killed and two injured.  Just one addition to that there was a Sky News camera team with the patrol, at the moment they don’t know what footage came out of the incident itself.

Richards:  What was it…fear about a suicide bomb was it? 

James:  The fear was it was a suicide bomber. They didn’t heed the warning to stop, didn’t heed warning shots, eventually they had to open fire.

Richards knows that today there will be tough questions from his greatest critics -- the Afghan press.

Richards: I think I’ll get a ticking off over civilian casualties, and I’ll handle that honestly, regret them bitterly, but remind them that it’s not us that’s attacking people from amongst the civilian community.

Richards: A big welcome. Do sit down. I’m sorry I’m late.

Afghan Journalist 1:  You mentioned this progress, and the reconstruction and these other development projects, that are really winning the heart of the people.  But there is one significant element that is still missing.  This is on the spot killing.  Since a month, 2 MOV full of foreign troops knocked on the door, asked him are you Waleed Mohammed, Ibrahimi and the guy said yes.  They asked the commander to lay down on the ground and they shot him 7 bullets and they went away…

Richards:  I can only tell you how annoyed, angry and sorry I am for that sort of incident…

Afghan Journalist 1:  The incident was repeated in Charin Shah two weeks ago.  They went to a house, surrounded the house and they hung the guy from a tree and shot him.

Richards:  The nation concerned with those two incidents has investigated them and they the soldiers are likely to have criminal charges placed against them

Richards: What I say to the Afghans who criticize us for civilian casualties, I say, do you think we came here to kill anybody?  The answer is no.  We came here actually to secure an environment in which reconstruction and development and good governance can take place and begin to flourish.

Richards: Finally, I would just ask you to help us persuade people that, actually, it could be a lot worse and they have every reason to be optimistic about the year ahead.

Back at Fort at Martello, Nicola is frustrated by the slow progress of her campaign to help the people in el Baq.

Security Man:  Pay attention, communication, keep your eyes open, stay aggressive, push right through.  Keep the security bubble, no one comes in. Robinson, do the old manjammy trick and I’ll assist you.

The water pumps are still not fixed and Nicola needs to prove she can deliver something.  Her new plan is to offer free medical care. And she sets off to the village to spread the word.

(Nicola walking)

But there’s a new complication. American Special Forces in the area have detained a suspected Taliban fighter. And it turns out he’s from el Baq.

(American soldiers walking with Taliban detainee)

(Man translates)
Nicola:  OK, can you let him know that on Sunday at 11am that we’re going to have medical doctors some medical doctors are coming up to look at all the villagers of El Baq, so anyone’s that’s sick or needs to be looked at, also dentists, for the teeth as well,

The detention of the villager by the Americans could undermine all of Nicola’s efforts.

Translator:  Can you help with this guy to release him from special forces.  I know that you can do it.

Voice:  Unfortunately that’s out of our league.

Nicola:  We can find out information, like we can find out how he’s doing or where they’ve taken him, but upon releasing him, that’s out of our jurisdiction, the US guys came in, special forces, because we have nothing to do with that when they came out here.

Nicola: You can also let him know that on Sunday there’s a possibility, possibility, that we’ll be giving out Material Aid for the winter coming up, clothing, and also you can let him know that we’ll be returning the generators that we took from most of the villages around here.

Nicola may be winning over some villagers, but she’s having a hard time convincing her own comrades.

McDonald: The village is just down the road here and they know they’re getting humanitarian aid and we know that there’s 80 to 200 Taliban surrounding us right now.  No one has come to tell us where those guys are.

Nicola:  Because maybe they don’t know. 

McDonald:  But they know there’s humanitarian aid is here.  You can’t tell me that 200 strangers coming into this area no one knows…

MacDonald: Have you got any information out of them? Have they told you where the Taliban are?

Nicola: Well I haven’t gotten that detailed.  I haven’t gotten into that much detail, right?

MacDonald: So they like you more than they like the Americans. How has that gotten us any further ahead?

Nicola: Well were getting the trust, that’s one of the reasons we came out here is to gain the trust of the population.

(Soldier playing video game)

Nicola:  I understand your side of the fence too, where you’re dealing with the Taliban and trying to understand what the locals are doing and you don’t trust anybody. But just to come in here and completely just say everyone’s Taliban, everyone should die.  All this is just completely wrong,you have to some education about coming into this place and knowing what you’re getting into.

(Lightning shots, exterior base)

Nicola now wants to expand her program, so the base commander sends out a platoon to make friends in a new village 30 miles north.

But as they head out, the rains begin and things go from bad to worse.

Soldier: Mechanical difficulties.

Soldier 1: That’s the main bearing.

Soldier 2: Where are we going from here?

Soldier 1:  Where are we going from here? Back to Martello maybe.

Soldier 2: But we’ve got to find a route out of here.

With one vehicle disabled, the mission to befriend the new village is abandoned and they scramble to get back safely before dark.

Nicola is pinning her last hopes for progress on her plans for the village medical day or VMO.

Nicola:  It’s going to look good, ticking the box for PRTs doing their job for the good village of el Baq, being the first VMO that the PRT’s are doing on this tour.  Which is another good thing.

But bringing the villagers to the base could make Fort Martello more of a target for the Taliban.

Max: There’s many people, it’s a highly visible event.  If we’re lucky nothing happens, everything carries on.  If we’re unlucky then we have to deal with a whole lot of trouble.

Soldier:  We’re going to search them using ANP mostly.  Women, open it up a bit, they can flatten it to their chest so we know they don’t have a big bomb on them, then bring them in there and you can search them.

The turnout is encouraging even though the villagers know that they risk Taliban reprisals just for going to see a NATO doctor.

It is events like this NATO hopes will turn the war in its favor.

(Subtitles) Go to the city, and ask for Dr. Mai Jan

(Subtitles) He’ll give you medicine, or he’ll operate

(Subtitles) Use these eye drops daily…

But it’s not all good news.  When Nicola hands back the villagers water pumps, only two of twelve have been fixed.  Meanwhile…

(Truck with generators drives out of frame)

(Shots of villagers) 

McDonald: What’s happened is the doctors have no more medication to see everyone.  I apologize for having brought them all the way out here and not having enough medication.  Next time we’ll do our best to treat them all.  What I can offer them is the food that we have here, you can take the food, share amongst themselves, older people, little people.

McDonald:  Everyone… tell them to share, or I’ll take it all away.

(Villagers taking boxes of food.)

Jerry: Right now it’s a band aid.  One village might be happy but the rest of them are still suffering, whatever, they’re still under the threat of Taliban.

The day after Nicola’s medical clinic, the Canadians are ordered to close down Martello.   The soldiers are urgently needed to reinforce troops fighting near Kandahar.

Nicola’s campaign is over, and she is being withdrawn. 

(Nicola sitting on ground near truck.)

The villagers of el Baq are abandoned to their fate.

Max:  They’re definitely at risk for retaliation. They’ve made themselves targets for the Taliban and without a doubt they will suffer some form of repercussion for having helped us.


Sam:  So there’s a Catch –22 isn’t there for the Afghans. On the one hand if they want to do business with you they can’t rely on the fact that NATO is going to stick around long enough to look after them.

Max: It’s a difficult position for them, yes.  It’s a little bit saddening. A lot of people were expecting our assistance and counting on us.

(Canadian soldiers walking into helicopter.)

The Canadians dismantled Fort Martello and left last December.  There is no longer any NATO presence in this part of Afghanistan.  And there is no news on what happened to the people of el Baq.





ANNOUNCER: Later tonight, a maestro brings back an old tradition.

(Luis Szaran conducting orchestra)

ANNOUNCER: But first, a revolution in micro-lending transforms lives around the world.


(map graphic zoom out)

(FLW logo)

(music up)

(scenes from Uganda)


Let’s get the clichés out of the way.  

Yes, most of Uganda’s 25 million people live on less than one dollar a day. 

Yes, the East African nation has suffered from civil war.

But despite all of this, people somehow manage to be enterprising.

Here on the edge of Kampala, they sell everything from charcoal to used greeting cards.

That’s what’s brought me here -- to a neighborhood called the Acholi Quarter, where most of the people are refugees from up north.

(Clark and Grace walk and talk through Acholi)

Clark:  How did so many folks end up here?

Grace:  Yeah, it’s really mainly because of the war.

Clark:  The war.

Grace Ayaa takes me through the local rock quarry. 

These former Acholi farmers now eke out a living by breaking rocks all day to earn money for food.

(Workers chipping rocks in quarry)

(Clark and Grace walk and talk)

Clark: So is that still the main source of employment for people?

Grace: Yeah.

(walking through quarry)

Grace Ayaa is lucky; she doesn’t have to work in the quarry.   

That’s because she owns a small business. 

She makes and sells peanut butter.

Clark: So this is your peanut butter factory.

Grace: Yes – it is.

(Woman handing out bag of peanut butter)

Grace’s factory got a boost when she changed the way she did business.

Grace: What we used to do - we had the stones, the grinding stones... So I used to do this just have my sesame and the peanut. Grind them on the real stone. And then pack them up. And then get into offices to get people who would buy them.

(Shots of women preparing peanut butter)

Last year Grace was able to buy a grinding machine and a refrigerator because she received what’s called a micro-loan.

(Woman with grinder)

Grace: I’m really so happy that the loan has been there. So that I put up everything in place. I bought the packaging materials with that money. I bought more of the produce – the sesame and the peanuts itself, the raw one. And this really increased my sales. And I feel so happy about that.

Grace had options when looking for a micro-loan.  She could’ve gone to a local bank.  But they often charge as much as 35% interest on such loans. Local moneylenders are worse.  Their interest rates are as high as 300 percent. Instead, Grace found her loan in a completely different way, and at a much lower interest rate.

When she visits her local web café, there is a message waiting for her.  It was from Nathan Folkert, who lives in San Francisco.

(Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco)

Nathan:  Uh, I do like peanut butter.  I like chunky peanut butter.  Um, I don’t know if Grace makes chunky peanut butter.

(Nathan typing)

Nathan:  I’m glad that I could be of help to you.  Did you purchase the refrigerator?

Grace:  …purchase the refrigerator?  And has this impacted your ability to produce and market your peanut butter?

Nathan’s one of a small group of lenders who loaned Grace the money she needed.

Nathan:  Thanks so much Nathan.  I purchased the fridge and bought the packing materials and this has really enabled me to produce more.  Excellent.  I’m glad that this has improved your business.

(Grace typing, laughing)

Grace came to the attention of Nathan when he found her story along with her photograph on the website of a San Francisco based non-profit called Kiva.

Nathan: The loan amount, she asked for 475 dollars, which I think is pretty reasonable for starting up a peanut butter business.  This is Grace Ayaa’s entry.  So it just tells like how much I’ve loaned to her and how much of my loan she’s repaid.

As Grace’s business grows, Nathan is taking the money and loaning it to others.  In all, he’s invested in some 70 businesses.

Nathan: Some of the stories are more interesting to follow and some of them are like, oh I went and visited this person and learned all about water spinach and you know, we went out on a boat and I met their kids.  And so, some of the stories are more fun.  But all of the stories are interesting.  I mean just to follow along. 

The concept of Kiva is simple.

Using just a credit card, a lender in the U.S. can make a small loan to an entrepreneur.

What’s different about Kiva is that – through the web – a more direct connection is forged between lender and borrower.

(Antonio and Olga at computer)

Antonio:  Ok, so our names, locations…

Olga Espira gave to a business in her native Kenya.

Olga:  There’s a human face behind the money.  It’s direct contact.  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; you understand it.  And the rest just really depends on what calls out to you.

Antonio:  Right, right. 

(driving shot in Uganda, Clark and Janet getting out of van to meet Amos)

In Uganda, Kiva relies on partnerships with local organizations to evaluate a businesses’ credit-worthiness.

Janet Alupot runs one of these partner organizations.

She takes me to meet Amos Mayoka. 

Clark: Hi, Amos?  I’m Clark.

(Clark and Amos walking together)

Clark: This is the site of your business here?

Amos: Yeah, this is my business.

Clark:  Ok, well tell me a little bit about your business.

Amos:  (SUBTITLE) Yeah, this business…we were three brothers. My elder brothers, passed away of AIDS and left me with a lot of children.  So now it’s entirely on me to keep up the two families. 

Clark:  So you’re responsible for them?

Amos: (SUBTITLE)  I’m responsible for my own nearly as for the others – the other two families.

Clark:  So how many people in total are you responsible for?

Amos:  (SUBTITLE)  Over 20.

Clark:  Over 20?

Amos: (SUBTITLE)  Yeah. 

(children in outdoor furniture shop)

Amos makes furniture to order.

He wants a loan of a little more than $1100 to expand his business.

(Janet talking to Amos)

It’s bigger than usual. Loan officer Janet Alupot asks Amos the hard questions.

Janet: (SUBTITLE) What’s the collateral that you’re giving us?

Amos: (SUBTITLE)  I have land. I have a house.

(Brick maker working in the mud)

Amos also has a brick-making business.

He says he’d use the loan to improve the way he makes and stores the bricks.

(Amos posing for picture by tree)

After the appraisal, Janet takes Amos’ picture so she can post it on the Kiva site.

(Picture of Amos by the tree on Kiva website)

Some of Kiva’s other Ugandan partners work a bit differently.

Grace Ayaa doesn’t just make peanut butter. 

She’s become the assistant director of a group called Life in Africa.

Life in Africa takes a more communal approach to deciding who can apply for a loan.

Each week, the members hold a meeting to review loan applications.

Grace’s assistant (woman): (SUBTITLE) Next is Kyomukama Molly and it is a charcoal stall.  Activity: buying charcoal and paying rent for the stall.

The members ask tough questions about Molly’s application, because they’re all responsible if her business fails.

This man defends her business plan.

Grace’s assistant (man): (SUBTITLE) Okay..transport. I think you always see these big trucks. We call them Mfusa.  They’ll just go deliver it.  There’s no transport cost.

(Group meeting with Grace)

Woman in group: (SUBTITLE) I support the idea of giving a loan to Molly. But Molly should not hire her son. Because her son refused to go to school 10 years ago. He might be capable of stealing or even disorganizing the business. 

Grace’s assistant (man): (SUBTITLE) The son dropped out of school because of school fees. There was no school fees for him.

Grace’s assistant (woman): How many people think Molly should not get the money?  Put up your hand.

Molly’s asking for 275 dollars.

Grace’s assistant (woman): (SUBTITLE)  OK, how many think she should get the loan?

(Grace interview)

Grace: People are very interested, I’m sure.  Our next loan is going to be more than 50 people. Cause everybody’s like wanting to get after the loan thing.

(David uploading Molly’s loan)

That evening, the information about Molly’s charcoal store is posted.

It goes halfway around the world to San Francisco.

(Kiva office in San Francisco)

Fiona: So this is the screen where we can see all of the loan applications that have been uploaded to our database. 

Amos the furniture maker is in that database.

Surprisingly, he may not have to wait long for a response.

Fiona Ramsey:  Average funding time is two and a half days.  I think that it’s quite possible he will be funded by the end of the week because this loan is from Africa and because of his story.  Even though it’s a large loan size. We’ll see. 

(Scenes of Kiva office in San Francisco)

Kiva’s a small operation relying on donations; they have a staff of just seven people.

Premal Shah serves as President.

(Premal power point presentation)

Premal: Humans are fundamentally better than banks.

He came to Kiva from the online money transfer company PayPal.

Premal Shah:  Banks don’t value emotional returns. And so banks will charge a high interest rate to these micro-finance institutions but people will be a little more forgiving. And second, banks have a cost structure.  So they need to pay for their brand building and their brick and mortar expenses, branches, etcetera.  People on the internet using basically your credit card – and PayPal by the way is providing its free payment processing – there’s really no cost for an internet surfer who’s sipping coffee just to come in and lend $100 to a small business.

(Shots of Bill’s house, Bill at computer)

Bill Wetherell:  There’s something about the tangibility of this.  You know, I’m helping to buy a bicycle or a chicken farm or a taxi.  That to me felt like, you know, like if I don’t get the money back, great it’s a donation, but if I do, this is great because I actually, I can actually re-loan the money to someone else.  And I can feel like a little Bill Gates Foundation or a Rockefeller Foundation in my own way.

(Matt and Jessica in Uganda)

The concept of online person to person lending came to a young couple from San Francisco – Matt and Jessica Flannery.

She’s a Stanford Business School student.

He used to do web design.

Matt:  You guys ready to go to Turroro?

They joined me in Uganda to show me how Kiva got its start.

(On the road in Uganda with Matt and Jessica)

 Jessica was here a few years back, working for another micro-finance group.

What she saw inspired her.

Jessica:  This is what, this is the Uganda that I remember.

Jessica and Matt thought about using the internet to make micro-lending more efficient.

But they needed a local partner.

Jessica found Moses Onyango in his village in eastern Uganda.

Moses, in turn, identified the first seven recipients for loans from Kiva.

(Happy reunion scene; Moses walk and talk with Clark)

Moses:  Immediately, when the businesses were logged on the site, they got funding of $3,100.  They wired the money to me.  I brought the money to the village.  I gave the money out to them.  And the businesses started immediately. 

(Moses talking with Matt, Jessica, and group)

Moses:  We have Kristin Aurora, she’s a…

Jessica:  The restaurant.  Good food.  It is!  It’s very good!

(Clark and Jessica talk with Elizabeth)

Clark:  So this is Elizabeth, she was one of the first people who got a Kiva loan.  Right?

Jessica: Yes, Yes, yes. And one of the first people I met. And she was so enthusiastic and so energetic.

Elizabeth Omalla received a 500 dollar loan from Kiva early last year to expand her fruit and vegetable business.

She’s already paid off her loan.

Jessica: This looks great; you have a lot.

(Clark and Jessica walk and talk through village)

Jessica: So many of these businesses were started with just small bits of money, usually $100, hundred dollar grants. 

Jessica:  Hi Christina, how are you?

(Christina at work)

Jessica:  Christina’s one of the original seven Dream Team who, if they failed, the whole idea probably would have stopped right there.

Clark:  So her initial loan was for how much money?

(Jessica and Clark with group)

Jessica: Um… I think it was 500.

Clark:  Five hundred.

Jessica:  I think it was 500.  Oooh, chipati…

Jessica: We know that Matt and I weren’t the experts in doing micro-loans. We saw great organizations doing great work and we wanted to get involved, but we weren’t so presumptuous to think – Oh, we can just go in there and give money to people that we meet and have it work. The partners are the experts, so what we want to do is empower them to do what they’re already doing and do it better and do it more and reach more people.

(Matt and Jessica walking in Kampala craft fair)

Jessica:  Good morning.

Back in Kampala, Matt and Jessica are visiting Life in Africa. There’s a craft fair going on where many of the merchants have been funded by Kiva.

Jessica:  Wow!  This is so exciting!

Matt’s also trying out some new technology – he can use a cell phone to take a picture of a loan recipient and upload it directly to the website bypassing the need for a computer.

In Africa, where electricity isn’t always available, cell phones are a more reliable way to communicate.

Matt: I just sent an image from my cell phone that went to our server which then emailed all the lenders to Joyce’s patchwork….this picture. 

No one is quite sure how far the technology can go, but Matt’s willing to dream big.
Matt: Kiva made a huge step in just connecting people from the first world to people from the third world.  Now if we could connect people from the third world to each other… that would just be, it seems like the next step.  It seems like the futuristic scenario.

(Janet visiting Amos)

It’s been a week since Janet Alupot came to see Amos the furniture maker. 

Now, after just a few days on the Kiva site, she has news for him.

Janet:  Glad to let you know your loan has been approved already.

Amos: Wow, thanks a lot.

The lenders have completely funded his project.

(Janet handing Amos stack of money)

Over the next nine months, Janet will keep tabs on Amos and post updates on the Kiva website about how his business is doing.

In fact, no one has ever defaulted on any loan made by Kiva.  The repayment rate, for now, stands at 100 percent.

(Acholi Quarter scenes)

What Kiva calls peer to peer micro-credit lending does seem to be working.

Grace Ayaa has seen the impact in Kampala’s Acholi Quarter.

Grace: The many who have managed to get other loans are doing very well.  Their income have increased, which wasn’t. Many people are really coming out from the stone quarry business, which is a hectic one. It’s real hectic. So, it brought real and great change to the people.

The success of a small business spreads throughout a community.

In the Acholi Quarter, new houses are being built.

(shots of Kiva website)

And Kiva is building on its success as well. 

It’s given out more than 400,000 dollars in loans.

And what started in just one small village in Uganda has spread to eleven other countries in just its first year.

(music up)

(map zoom out)




(music up)


ANNOUNCER: Finally, tonight, how one man is trying to transform his country.

(Szaran playing guitar)

(map zoom in)

Paraguay: Sounds of Hope


(shots of shanty town)
(kids play in trash-filled gully, people walking on mountain of trash)

In the capital of one of the poorest countries in South America…is a neighborhood built around the city dump.

(landfill, people picking through garbage)

In the middle of all this, I heard an unexpected sound…

(Jessica plays part of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Monica listening)

It’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

(SUBTITLES) I was amazed.  Because not even in her dreams had she seen a violin before.  One day she surprised me when she said,  “I can play a song on the violin.”

(WS slums. ext school, group music lesson)

Ten year old Jessica Ramos is part of something extraordinary that’s happening here, in the slums of Cateura.

It began a few weeks ago…


(music from class. (“Minuet in G Major” by J. S. Bach))

A new school opened…and with free lessons and new instruments, it didn’t take long for the children to find their way here.

(visuals of class, young women and babies watching, young girl smiling)

(SUBTITLES): Music has a special power, especially music made in a group.  It creates friendships, joy.  It awakens noble sentiments.

(WS ruins at Trinidad, Luis playing guitar)

Luis Szaran is one of Paraguay’s most famous musicians.

(Luis playing guitar. (“Andantino, Music of the Jesuits” by Anonymous, 18th C.))

He grew up in rural Paraguay, near the ruins of an ancient Jesuit mission…it was here, he says, that he got the inspiration for a new kind of school.

(Luis walking through the ruins. Carvings of angels playing instruments. Luis walking around ruins.)



(SUBTITLES): Much has been said about the splendor of the music of the Jesuit missions.  Through art they taught all the other aspects of life --  respect, a democratic spirit, team work, discipline.  I felt inspired to recreate this by creating a program called Sounds of the Earth.

(POV shots of red road, Luis driving.)

Szaran began Sounds of the Earth five years ago…as a way to use music to change lives.

(rickety bridge on dirt road)

We’re on our way to the village of Mbuyapey…to visit one of the first schools he started.

(Jorge practices at home. (“Suite No. 1 for Solo Cello” by Bach))

(SUBTITLES) I started when I was sixteen.  I started from zero, from absolutely nothing.
 I didn’t know what a cello, bass or violin was.

(Jorge rides horse around)

Jorge Guzman was one of the first to join the program. Back then, he was delivering milk to neighbors on his horse.

( SUBTITLES): I didn’t know anything about music.

(Jorge starts playing another song (“Hunter’s Chorus” C.M. von Weber))

(SUBTITLES): Then came the Sounds of the Earth project  and it was free.  Now I’m working.  I teach cello and bass.

(Luis sits w/Oscar, reviews his score)

Szaran is a gifted teacher. Today he’s working with thirteen year old Oscar Aguilar Mas, a promising young violinist.

(Luis sings Oscar’s score out loud, gestures)

With Szaran’s help, Oscar is composing his own music.

(SUBTITLES): There is a moment when a melody comes to you.  And I just decide to compose.  I can be inspired by a tree, or stuff like that.

(Luis gives Oscar a hug, (Subtitle) “What an ending! Spectacular!” Luis eating lunch with parents.)

(SUBTITLES): When we began five years ago the biggest challenge was to connect with people.  We had to find a way to empower the adults, too, to organize themselves, to administrate and fundraise.

(Kid playing guitar alone. Kids sitting outside of school. Women cooking. Luis listens to Ana Lucretia playing violin. (“Recuerdos de Ypacarai” by Demetrio Ortiz & Zulema Merkin))

For Szaran this is essential to the program – teaching poor communities to take the lead – to find a school building, to cook meals for the students, to organize community concerts.

(Ana Lucrezia plays music (“Scales and Arpeggios” from the movie “Aristocats,” by Robert & Richard Sherman))

Szaran himself came from a humble background. He was the youngest of eight children in a poor farming family.

(SUBTITLES): My father was a musician but he couldn’t pursue his profession.  He became a rice farmer.

(Photo of young Luis.)

His father forbade him to study music, but that didn’t stop Szaran.

(SUBTITLES): When I was eight, I heard a classical guitarist play, and I knew that that was my world.  I began to practice secretly with a neighbor.  When I was twelve, I started composing short songs.

Then the head of a music school discovered Szaran, and gave him a scholarship to study music in Europe.

(Szaran conducting the orchestra (“Choli” by Jose Asuncion Flores))

He later returned to Paraguay…where he’s now the conductor of the country’s most prestigious orchestra.

(photo of young Luis conducting, current day Luis conducting orchestra)

(SUBTITLES): I’ve been lucky to be successful.  So I want to give back to life what it has given me.

(Luis finishes with a flourish)

(WS Asuncion skyline.Empty lot with homeless kids)

Szaran is now taking on his biggest challenge yet…Bringing the program into the tough urban slums of the capital, Asuncion.

(front door w/boy sitting on steps, statue in backgrnd. WS of exterior sign “Don Bosco Roga”)

Here at the Don Bosco House, a home for orphaned street children, Sounds of the Earth is starting a new program. Padre Emilio Fernandez gave me a tour.

(Monica and Padre Emilio walking into the cafeteria, kids in mess hall.)


(SUBTITLES): The process of recuperation for these kids is not easy.  From a lack of love, from hunger, from violence  their psyche is deteriorated.

David found his way to this orphanage only a month ago.

(Teacher shows David how to hold his head. “Muy bien y…”)


(SUBTITLES): Imagine you’re drawing a line  like this…

David gives it a try.

(SUBTITLES): When I lived on the streets, I was cold and hungry.

(SUBTITLES): Today was the first time I ever played an instrument.

(David plays a note.)

(SUBTITLES): The first note I played was very special.

(David plays another note, the teacher smiles)

DAVID: It was great for me. I felt good.

(Don Bosco orchestra plays, finish with a flourish. (“Apollo Suite” by Isaac Merle))

The Don Bosco orchestra integrates orphaned children with others from the community.

(kids working with tools in the workshop, CU’s of kids sanding guitar, scraping wood)

Sounds of the Earth has also started an instrument workshop here.

(SUBTITLES): Keep in mind that we’re not looking for good musicians,  but rather good citizens,  To train good musicians, there are conservatories and universities. In our case, music is really a pretext to create social networks and social change in Paraguay.

A lot has changed in the past five years. Sounds of the Earth has grown from a few small villages to reaching children all over the country.

(families arriving at Repatriacion music school. Luis greeting parents)

Most of these communities have achieved Szaran’s vision – to run their music schools independently, but he still likes to drop in. Today he’s come to the town of Repatriacion to celebrate his birthday.

(Luis starts dancing, girls play harp music. (“A Mi Tierra” by Luis Alberto del Parana.))

Children from several neighboring villages have come together to play in this concert.

(large outdoor harp concert (“Cheroga” arranged or composed by Eladio Martinez and Papi Orrego))

(SUBTITLES): It makes me really happy when I see the initiatives they develop on their own, through their own creativity and when I se that they’re flying solo, and have made the project sustainable.

(harps finish with a flourish)

(Luis conducts trio of Oscar, Juan, Jorge.)

Before I left, Szaran brought me to listen to a special trio of his best students -- Oscar, Jorge, and Juan – the boys I’d met earlier.

(Trio begins playing. Luis smiling)

It is an original composition by Oscar. (“Happiness in Europa” by Oscar Aguilar Mas)

(Trio finishes with a flourish).



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