One of the wonderful ideas for alleviating poverty internationally comes from my friend, Susanne Kromberg. It is a great way to extend the giving of the holiday season all year round.
She tells it this way…
Our daughters invited their friends (and parents) from their school to join an investment club—not investing for our own financial gain, but investing in kids in other parts of the world. We chose to have Kiva parties. The non-profit, Kiva, is an online organization that “lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.” Kiva was also chosen because you get a little bit of a story, and can get some sense of connection with people in another part of the world. (www.kiva.org)
I also wanted it to be peer-to-peer for the kids as much as possible, so I suggested that we would focus on projects that would help kids like themselves get an education. About 20 people came to the first meeting. Parents and children alike contributed—sometimes as a family, sometimes children giving of their allowance. At one point we had a lemonade stand in the park across the street to educate others and raise money to lend to entrepreneurs. We agreed to relend the money, rather than try to recoup the money when the loans were paid back.
Over time we raised $850 dollars and were able to make 27 loans. Only one defaulted. That woman lived in Kenya, in the areas hardest hit by the post-election violence. It was very poignant to us as a group to read news stories about the conflict, and have a personal connection and wonder what was happening for her and her family.
The blessing we received in return was far greater than the blessing we gave to others.
Contributed by Jan Wood, North Seattle Friends