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A Chance Encounter

Dear Professor Muhammad,

I just want to say that it was both a pleasure and an honor to meet you last week in Singapore. I did recognize your face, and I just felt I had to approach you to commend you on what a great job you have done, and continue to do for the less fortunate people, especially in Bangladesh, and in other places as well.

You were very kind to give me a few minutes of your precious time. Your apparent simplicity and pleasant demeanor made me feel at ease.

I would like you to know that I am not too crazy about film stars and other celebrities that fall in the glamour category. To me, the real heroes and heroines of this world are those who help the poor in their immediate vicinity and beyond, with not just money, but with a heart of love as well. My favorite was Mother Teresa, but you are very high on my list.
I am just an anonymous admirer of people like you, and I would like to assure you that you will be blessed by God for your good efforts, both in this world, as well as the next.

What a great achievement on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. To tell you the truth, I am not a big fan of a few of the previous recipients of this award. You will definitely agree with me, that the decisions are made after political and other considerations. Why, the committee openly regrets not having given Mahatma Gandhi the honor when he was alive, but we all know that he was deprived of it, because of British influence (they were the superpower then). But then again, it was not Gandhi who missed the prize, it was the Nobel committee that lost credibility in not giving it to him!

This makes your achievement all the more credible, especially in a post 9/11 world, where much of the Western media projects a negative view of Muslims in general. You have proven to be a great ambassador for your country, as well as your faith.
May God continue to bless you and your good work.
Basil Rego

Grameen Can Help the Poor in Tanzania

Dear Professor Latifee

First of all, I would like to say thank you so much for inviting me to attend the 54th Grameen International Dialogue Program. Thank you and your team for working hard for us. I want to let you know that I took and will take the Grameen model seriously because it works for the people who are forgotten by the financial and economic institutions of this world.

Second, I want to say that now I know that for all of these years God has been preparing me to empower His people. When I was 17, I was an evangelist. My task was to group people in the village for Bible Study and worked the same as Center Mangers work to lead rural church. When I became a pastor, I had under me several rural churches (centers) under me. To me, I was working as Branch Manager. I spent most of my time in the villages. When I became Church Bookshop Manger and Communication Director, I interacted with a larger areas that included different regions. So if I use Grameen model, I was working as a Zonal Manager. After I have worked as internationally and completed my PhD dissertation on Social Capital, God is sending me back to empower people in the villages. What I want to say is that for 10 days that I spent with you, I came to realize how Grameen became the bank for the poor. The Bank that the poor identify with. I am really ready to take this to the poor in Tanzania. I will be the first Center Manager.

Thirdly, I want to thank Tamim to take time to review the draft proposal. I will implement his suggestions in the next revised draft. Also, I do appreciate so much the input from Mr. Latifee on financial projection and starting with the rural areas. After pondering all of these, I agree with you. If you don't start with the rural areas, you will never go to the rural areas. So in our short plan, I will start with two branches; one in the slum area in town, and the other in rural area.

I want to implement the Grameen model as it is, without pick and choose. Then after six months we will learn what it works better in the slum areas (town) and village (rural areas), and which adjustments are needed as far as Grameen model is concerned in Tanzania. I don't want to miss February 1 deadline. I want to spend November and December 2008 talking and interviewing people in the village so that I get to know those people and their needs. At the same time, those people start to know about our vision goals.

Yes, I know the basics about Grameen model. But I still have a long way to go. I need to learn more and be mentored by the Grameen experts. I think Empowering Enterprises of Africa should be so lucky. I am saying this because I came to know you when you are finalizing the plans with Presidential Trust Fund in Tanzania. Please do not make me your competitor. Please make me your son and include me as one of your plan. I am ready to learn and work with you so that we empower not only the Tanzanians but the Africans at large.

Having saying this, I will re-work on the proposed Guideline we submitted at the end of the Grameen Dialogue Program. What I submitted was incomplete due to the lack of time. But in about two weeks, I will present a complete application proposal that is intended to replicate the Grameen model in Tanzanian villages and towns.

As you can tell, I am so excited. This is why I keep writing and writing. Let me stop here.
Once more, thank you so much for taking interest in my work and vision. Please convey my greetings and thanks to all 54th Dialogue Secretariat members. I am very much interested in working and learning from you. Please let me know how together we can grow Tanzania and Africa.

Dhanno bad!!
Jasson Kalugendo, PhD