I've been a happy Kiva member since last September. Having heard of this organization but never able to remember the name, I was ecstatic when I happened upon it in Facebook.
Being a not-well-informed "Western" person of, let's face it, some means, when compared to others in dire needs, I casually sought women doing weaving or textile things...
I was lucky I discovered a collective in Guatemala in clothing sales straight away. I have a friend Rudy in La Antigua whose photo blog has highlighted their textiles, (sometimes just for me because I nag), as well as the plight of the women in Guatemala and Mom went to get pointers from his during her textile trip there. These ladies became my first recipients.
Two days later the tsunami hit Samoa, and I had to do something, so I added a Samoan recipient. I'm not sure how close she is to the ravaged coast, but anyone involved in food production is sure to help many in need. (It was a close one, though; there was a fisher-woman I liked, too.)
Around that time, there were huge tropical storms all over Asia, and I was at a loss as to whom I should help. I've had a special connection with the Philippines from two jobs in Tokyo in the 80s, and I've reconnected with some friends via Facebook, so this collective in food production and sales became my third. And don't they look lovely? Some even look like my friends.
And if you thought I was only promoting Kiva today, I am in a way, but wait for it.
I thought I'd like to add an entrepreneur from Palestine, at the start of this year. I couldn't sleep last night so around 3 in the morning I went searching. But wouldn't you know, the word "weaving" jumped out at me, and I do have a love of Central Asian textiles, (I must show you my two sometime!!) , and I chose this group in Afghanistan. I don't know what the women are going to do with funds, but a woman weaver and a woman tailor in Afghanistan, I'm sure, need to know the world cares about them.
The nice thing about Kiva is you the loans, from my side, can start at US$25, which doesn't make such a big dent in my bank account, so even I can afford it. And because they are loans, I get paid back, and yesterday I had $4 in credit, so I used that towards the latest loan.
It does feel a bit strange to sit in sunny Nelson on-line-shopping for worthy recipients much the way I search Amazon and Halcyon Yarns. I do feel guilty it's so easy. Over the years I've made it a habit to try to give small amounts of money (because nobody wants stuff any more, do they??) to the needy, and I used to have to go to their offices, the bank or post offices to fill in forms, and then they started to ring to ask for your bank account number for regular withdrawals, and now, no interaction with a living person but just sign up on-line? What happened to the letters from the kid we were supporting overseas, (our didn't write, but his mother did, religiously). And I used to translate letter for that organization as a volunteer.
I am interested in "my" groups, and keep an eye on how they're doing, not just in terms of repayment, their lives and countries in general.
If anyone would like an "official" invite email, (can't remember what's in it!), please let me know.
By the way, there are heaps more worthy recipients in Palestine, and elsewhere. And that Palestinian woman in Gaza married to a policeman, her request filled quickly; no room for me now.