It is no secret that I’ve spent much of my time for the past year learning about compassion, non-judgment, philanthropy, global poverty, health, and so many of the other subjects we talk about here on The Conscious Perspective. In my eyes, they tie seamlessly together.
On a recent drive home I opted to skip the CBC Radio One or audiobook I would normally listen to, and decided instead to enjoy a few brief moments of silence. During this time I had a certain subject on my mind – that of the role of women throughout the world.
You see, I recently finished listening to a new book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by New York Times writer Katherine Boo. The book chronicles the lives of a few families and individuals living in the slums of Mumbai, a large city in India. The slums are just within reach of some of the most luxurious hotels in the city, where the wealthy gather.
The book, written after Boo spent years speaking to residents living in the slums, paints a picture of what it is truly like for the men, women and children who call the slums of Annawadi home.
As a Mother, I was quite impacted by the realities of what a Mother in Annawadi would experience on a regular basis – their daily chores even – my body could handle for only one day. In the book, it is also common for women to be physically abused by the men in their lives, including brothers.
I also recalled a recent study that reported a staggering 33% of all married women in Japan are domestically abused. And as one Tweeter said – those are only the ones who participated in this particular survey.
So yes, lately I’ve thought a lot the role of women throughout the world, and on this drive home I realized that every woman I know is lucky. There are tragedies, there is sorrow, nothing is perfect. But my Mother, my sister, my cousins. We are lucky to be living where we are, and we are lucky to have chosen this period in history to be women and Mothers.
One of my favorite quotes is, “To those whom much is given, much is expected“. This is how I view my own life. I am grateful for what I have been given, and realize that I am here at this time for a reason.
For Mother’s Day this year, instead of flowers for the Mother’s in my life, I am providing them with the opportunity to help a Mother somewhere else in the world. I am giving them Kiva Cards – $25 gift certificates which they can use to contribute to helping another Mother’s dream come true.
Why am I doing this? Because I know that the women who are waiting for Kiva microloan funding, these Mother’s don’t want a handout, they just need a helping hand.
You can learn more about Kiva’s Mother’s Day cards here.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Graciela is a 28-year-old mother of a 10-month-old baby. She and her husband, along with their baby, reside in a densely populated region of Ecuador. Graciela’s husband is a professor of Theater Arts. In order to enable her to be able to contribute financially to her home Graciela sells shoes door to door, something she has been doing for a “few years”, working an average of eight hours a day.
Graciela describes her days as exhausting given the “long stretches” she must cover and due to the lack of support and loans from financial institutions in her region – starting up her business has been challenging. Her dream is to “grow and have her own shoe store”, which will allow for her family to live better overall, including worrying less about her child, who is at risk for lacking necessities.
Graciela is simply trying to survive, and although we may feel helpless in these situations, there is in fact something we could do to help.
Kiva is a non-profit organization fueled by a mission in which they seek to end poverty by lending. “Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.” Funds are lent in order to meet various needs of borrowers including clothing, transportation, agriculture and housing. Graciela is one of the many faces on the Kiva website seeking this loan.
Essentially the way Kiva operates is a borrower meets with a “field partner” to request a loan, in some instances the funds are dispersed and the loan is then reviewed and published on Kiva.org. The rationale behind initial disbursement of funds is due to the fact that for many borrowers, a delay in funds can negatively impact their business.
For the “life of the loan” borrowers are able to see progress updates both via email and the Kiva website, and as the money is repaid by the borrower, it becomes available in the lender’s account. At that point lenders have the opportunity to use it to fund another loan, donate to Kiva, or withdraw it and use it elsewhere.
To date 708,741 entrepreneurs have received a loan through Kiva and the current repayment rate is 98.90% and the average loan amount is approximately $386.14.
This structure of Kiva is based on what is called Microfinance. A concept which reminds me of the Chinese Proverb: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”
Many of the recipients of these loans have been “taught how to fish” or in many cases have taught themselves “how to fish.” Many of these men and women are trying to sustain their business and aren’t asking for a gift or a handout but rather, they are asking for an opportunity and are willing to work to pay back the money borrowed to their lenders, people, and corporations who were willing to invest in the life of another human being.