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Tag: Kiva

How to celebrate

Yes take 3

 When I accomplish something really big, something I have worked long and hard for, I buy myself what I call a “push present.” I recently completed writing my tenth book and bought myself a beautiful new ring that I wear nearly everyday…. The ring is a physical, constant reminder and proof of my abundance and prosperity that comes from the part of me that is connected to the Divine. And, every time I look at this ring it makes me smile and remember that I have accomplished something that I am really proud of…. I also “tithe” the same amount I spend to someone or something that provides me with spiritual sustenance. This creates even more fulfillment with me. –Arielle Ford

While I was considering how to celebrate my new job, I came across a blog post from Arielle Ford that resonated with me, where she explained how she celebrated the completion of her last book.

I was definitely on board with the jewelry idea! When I worked for a startup that recognized the Employee of the Month with a cash award, I spent my award money on earrings–the one piece of jewelry I never leave the house without. I bought another pair to celebrate a hard-won raise a few years ago, and a third pair to celebrate this new job. I also made a reservation at my favorite French bistro to celebrate with friends.

When I think of spiritual sustenance, I think of books, magazines, processes like SoulCollage, guided meditations. Typically the people behind them are already doing well and really aren’t in any need of help from me. Since this was a business-related goal, I thought Kiva loans would be a perfect way to celebrate. When these loans are paid back, I’ll loan the money again, so it will truly be the gift that keeps on giving.

These are the women I loaned to (top to bottom and left to right):

  • Fanta from Mali, who sells fabrics, including African waxprints
  • Rewad from Palestine, who’s working on her degree in elementary education
  • Tuyet from Vietnam, who’s adding a bathroom to her house
  • Mahzuna from Tajikistan, a single mother with a tailoring business
  • Martina from Peru, who has a food sales business
  • Fatmata from Sierra Leone, who has a grocery store

FantaRewadTuyetMahzuna

Martina

Fatmata

How do you like to celebrate?

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage® card Yes!

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Stretch yourself

Stretch

Lately I’ve been noticing that as I get older, a flexible, limber body doesn’t come for free anymore. Last night as I spent time stretching, the subject of the SoulCollage card I made today came to me.

I’m challenging myself to stretch this week in as many different ways as possible–and I hope you’ll join me (and share your experience here in the comments section, if you like). Here are 10 ideas to get us both started …

  1. Make a monetary gift you wouldn’t otherwise have made. A couple of fun ideas are making a Kiva loan, or adopting a child for Christmas through a program such as Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. (Be aware that they have more gift requests to choose from, if those on display don’t appeal to you. I like to dig for low-tech requests like a tea set or doll’s chair … the kinds of things I liked to play with myself back in the day!)
  2. Instead of an e-mail or electronic conversation–nice as those can be–send a beautiful card with a hand-written note to someone you care about. The best e-mail you’ve ever sent has never been given pride of place on anyone’s mantel, but your card probably will be. This year I got a lovely Halloween card from someone who’s sworn off Christmas cards–and it’s on my mantel as I write. Bonus points for needing an extra sheet of paper to finish your note!
  3. Instead of running one more errand–let’s face it, the to-do list is everlasting and will never truly be completed no matter what we do–take time to enjoy something beautiful. Take in a museum show, watch ice skaters (or be one of them!), visit a sculpture garden.
  4. If you see homeless people as you go about your business, keep food in your car to share with those who are looking for it (I keep protein bars in fun flavors), along with an encouraging word.
  5. Be kind to an animal. Stock treats for the neighbor’s cat who likes to say hello, or take your dogs to the dog park. If there’s a stray animal nearby, make sure it has food, take it to the vet (and be sure they check for a microchip!), see about finding it a home or getting it back to the home it already has. Or, if you have room, adopt a dog or cat. If you’ve never done it (or even if you have), it’s a tremendously rewarding experience, and guaranteed to stretch you.
  6. Have a little more in-depth conversation with someone you interact with on a casual basis–your barista, someone on the elevator at work, a neighbor. You never know when a few kind words may change the course of someone’s life. A simple kindness could be among the most impactful things you ever do.
  7. Express something you might normally keep to yourself. Voice a compliment. Thank someone who’s been important in your life. You could write a letter to your alumni magazine, for example, expressing appreciation for your professors and your college experience.
  8. Put an electronic device away–for an hour, the day, the weekend. Remember what life was like before you had a smartphone, a GPS, a TV (OK, maybe I’m the only one who remembers what life was like without TV!), or a laptop. It won’t kill you, I promise!
  9. Do something different. Go crazy–change your drink order or your route home. Try a new restaurant or ethnic cuisine; cook a new dish. Buy a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tasted before. (If you’ve never had a pomelo, they’re in season now, and they are fabulous!) Jump out of an airplane, if you’ve always wanted to.
  10. When you’re just about to say No, if you suspect it’s out of unhelpful fear, say Yes instead.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

How to make a difference

Kiva

Making a Kiva micro-loan is a fun way to make a difference in the life of another person you’ll likely never meet.

This is Kanyshbubu from Kurgyzstan, the woman whose loan I funded this week along with 22 other lenders (individuals, couples, and groups) from North America, Europe, and Asia. This is her story:

Kanyshbubu is 44 years old, married, and together with her husband is raising four children. Kanyshbubu has a higher education and works in a local school as a librarian. As a main source of income for her family, Kanyshbubu raises livestock, having begun 26 years ago with a livestock purchase of 15,000 som KGS. Thanks to her hard work, Kanyshbubu today has on her homestead: four dairy cows, one horse, and 35 sheep. Monthly income amounts to 13,000 som (KGS).

With the aim of further developing her homestead, Kanyshbubu applied to Bai Tushum Bank for a loan – to purchase calves to increase her livestock count. Kanyshbubu plans to invest income from the loan in further propagating the number of domestic animals, and plans to save money to purchase a plot of land. –kiva.org

Each translated story (you can also read it in the original language version if you’re fluent) is accompanied by a picture, and I use the pictures to help me make a decision. I’ve never had anyone default on a loan, so I consider my method successful–but defaulting is rare. I loan only to women–my way of helping to even the score–and only to individuals. I don’t loan to people who are scowling–this is not uncommon!–and I consider other elements in the photos as well. For example, in this photo, there’s a happy, well-cared-for animal (as well as a happy person),  both of which are right up my alley. When a retail establishment is involved (and there are many of those on Kiva), I consider aesthetics. I love someone who’s making the world a more beautiful place! I also consider other values, like the quality of the merchandise (will it last?), whether someone is buying organic fertilizer (like manure), engaging in reuse (like making discarded coconut shells into charcoal), and so on.

Those are aspects that appeal to me, but there’s something for everyone. Kiva has lending teams, some of which are based on shared affiliation or belief (alma mater, religious denomination, political party or candidate, etc.), and some lend based on theme, such as loans that are about to expire, green loans, animal-related loans, etc. I’m a member of the Women Empowering Women team.

The way Kiva works is …

  • The website presents loans that have already been made by many different micro-lenders around the world. When you participate, you take over a portion of the loan (the basic increment is $25, and you can assume multiple increments of the same loan if they’re available and you want to), freeing up the original funds so the lender can make another loan sooner than they’d otherwise be able to. This allows them to help more people.
  • Micro-loans do typically carry a higher rate of interest than you may be used to paying as they’re expensive to administer. However, all the evidence points to micro-loans being beneficial to those who receive them, and being an important stepping stone out of poverty.
  • You assume the risk of not getting paid back, which is minimal on Kiva. This risk is associated with both the individual or group being loaned to not repaying the loan, as well as the micro-lender itself failing. Statistics on the associated micro-lender are available on the same page as information about the individual or group. So far, I’ve never had a loan default, though I’ve had a number where payments were late. Right now I have one that’s delinquent, but so far, these situations have always resolved themselves. I did once make a loan where the micro-lender was having difficulty, and I was repaid.
  • If all goes well, and it almost always does, you get your principal back (the interest goes to the original lender), a bit at a time. You can then loan again, or get your money back (via PayPal). You can also give Kiva gift cards to others, so they can experience the fun of making their first Kiva loan.
  • You aren’t required to donate to Kiva, but you have the option of making a donation to help cover operating costs each time you make a loan. Sometimes these donations are matched.

So far I’ve made loans to women in 13 different countries on 3 different continents–Africa, Asia, and South America. (I guess as I think about it, I’m reaching people in more locations than that with my blog–30 different countries on 5 continents as of today–hello, Austria! And thank you, widely-read English language.) I find it another exciting way to impact other women around the world–and I hope you will too!

(You don’t need an invitation to join Kiva, but I’d be happy to send you one if you’d like. Just leave a comment with your e-mail address. If you want your e-mail address kept private, just note that as well and I’ll take care of it.)

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