Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fighting World Poverty

There are many organizations that are working to help make life better for people around the world. Two of them are ones I've contributed to for a little while now and wanted to share with others.

The first is Kiva, a group that works with international partners to make micro-loans. For as little as $25 you can help someone fulfill their dream. The money isn't a gift, but a loan. Money is raised from a number of different people contributing to the loan fund. For instance, my small $50 contribution was only a part of the $4,000 lent to the Inocente Group of Guatemala by Kiva through a group called the Friendship Bridge. The Inocente Group is made up of women weavers who make and sell goods to support their families. This is their second micro-loan. As Kiva notes:
They will invest their loans in tiny translucent beads of every color, with which they will make intricate bracelets, necklaces, and other crafts, like eyeglass chains. Others will invest in thread for weaving. They are skilled in the art of weaving fine huipiles, the traditional Mayan blouse, which can take up to three months to make. They also weave skirts, scarves, and head wraps. All the women are ‘ambulantes’, meaning they carry their products with them, most often in a basket on their head, through the streets of Panajachel, bargaining with and selling to the hundreds of tourists that come through the town. Laura Teresa, a voice for the group, shares that for every 1000 quetzales of investment they will earn about 2000 quetzales.
The biggest danger I've found in supporting people through Kiva is that it can be addictive. At $25 or $50 a time, I end up lending more money than I intended to. A good thing in the end :). When your money is repaid, you can use it to lend to another individual or group, or take it back. And no, you don't get interest. In fact, they ask for a small donation for the Kiva organization with each loan to keep the group operating. Take a look through some of those who are looking for a hand up - I bet you'll find someone you can't resist helping!

The second is probably better known to most of you, it's One. Yes, it's Bono's group. They offer a variety of ways of helping out. They range from free - sign a declaration for a commitment to end poverty, to buying one of those ubiquitous wrist bands (white in this case), T-shirts and such. Become a volunteer, or even just add One to your Facebook page.

Neither One nor Kiva will take that much time, or even that much money. But both are working to help. So help them do that.


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