Happy Birthday, Becky! I hope you have had a great day, and I look forward to continuing the celebration in Lexington.
By now you should have received your gift certificate to Kiva.org. Given your active engagement with the world of human rights and global betterment, you probably already know that Kiva Microfunds is a microlending organization dedicated to funding institutions in developing countries, which in turn lend the money to small businesses.
For those that are not familiar with this organization, however, Kiva is remarkable because it gives everyone an automatic and tangible way to make the world a better place. To participate, you choose one of the hundreds of qualified entrepreneurs profiled on the website, and you lend however much you can to help them reach their goal. You can read all about these entrepreneurs, and see how many previous loans they have received as well as their rate of default.
"Mrs. Penda Diallo is a divorcee aged 40, mother of three children, who lives in Sanankoroba, a village situated 20 km from Bamako (the capital of Mali) where she is a social worker in the SOS children's village. Sanankoroba is situated in the second administrative region of the Republic of Mali.
Penda sells 'pagnes' (lengths of brightly colored African print cloth), bedsheets, fabrics, etc. In her search for complementary financial resources, she decided to join the micro-finance institution Soro Yiriwaso. She is on her first individual loan after having correctly reimbursed three group loans (solidarity loans) and with this loan she intends to buy 35 'pagnes' and 15 sheets
She does her buying at the market in Bamako, then sells for cash and credit in Sanankoroba. She hopes to make an average monthly profit of 55,000 F CFA so that she can not only reimburse the loan but also invest in her business and contribute to family expenses."
None of your money is a donation. Via profiles on their website, you keep track of how much of your loan has been repaid each month, and when you have been paid in full, you have the choice of reloaning the money, donating it to Kiva to fund operating costs, or withdrawing the money.
Thanks to Wikipedia, here is a partial list of famous/influential people who support Kiva Microfunds:
League of Virtue LoV—a non-profit network and life-change strategy to help ordinary people build micro-giving concepts into a sustainable lifestyle—showcases Kiva as a critical part of what it call “sustainable human compassion.”
I know this present is, in essence, a delayed box-full-of-cash, but I hope you like it.
My trip to Brussels last weekend introduced me to Manneken Pis, the child who has been continuously peeing outside for hundreds of years now. Originally constructed in 1388, this little boy represents the future for all Dutch/Flemish males, who will experience countless outdoor urinations throughout their lives. But their countries are prepared for it. Outdoor urinals are erected (ha) throughout cities in crowded drunken areas so that these boys and their bladders will be able to take care of business. That's all well and good except that girls' bladders are often smaller and just as much in need of relief. In the statue world, this led to the construction of Jeanneke Pis. In the actual world, this has led to lines that last forty-five minutes. I spent a total of two hours in lines for the bathroom yesterday and the day before (Queen's Day and Night, respectively) and still had to pay as much as a euro to relieve myself. These outdoor urinals are free, convenient, and wait-free. My solution? Funnels. Think about it.