I'm a grandmother, a retired teacher, an avid reader who loves historical re-enactment, English Country Dance, writing and Op Shopping. My business www.StepIntoHistory.com.au is designed to help children experience history through school incursions.
There are so many charities and save the world programs around it is really difficult to choose between them. Some of them seem to be great, but there have always been stories of inordinate amounts of money being spent on administration or on luxury accommodation for workers or of corrupt governments hijacking goods sent.
When I discovered Kiva, I was hooked. It is based on micro finance - i.e. lending relatively small amounts to low-income people who are unable to borrow from banks. It covers over 40 countries worldwide and is administered by local Field Partners who vet, administer, and disburse each loan.
Loans then must be repaid. At first I wondered if this was a bit tough but I suppose it is an incentive to do well and contributes to the pride and self respect of the borrowers. The Kiva site says "Microfinance is also the idea that low-income individuals are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty if given access to financial services."
I started out lending $50 towards a loan of $500 to a woman in Bolivia. She repaid the loan in a year and has now applied for another loan to expand her business. My $50 has now been channelled into two $25 loans. I love the fact that I can keep helping by re-loaning the same initial money.
For more information and explanations of how it works, check out www.kiva.org
Gifts That Keep Giving
Do you have a family like mine? We have so much stuff we are always trying to declutter and give things away. Christmas and birthdays have become increasingly difficult even for the children. They often can't think of anything they really want. OK, my granddaughter always wants lollies and my nephew likes money, but it's very tricky. As for adults .... aaarrrgh! Every year we say, buy me nothing, but that's not much fun is it? So we tend to do wine and food and things we asked for - so they are no surprise.
This year I have decided everyone is getting Kiva cards. I've already given one to my sister and she loved it. Unlike the buy a chicken or goat sites - which are great, and I've done that too - you get input into where your money goes and when the loan is repaid, you get to do it again! How cool is that. (You can withdraw the repaid money if you want, but please don't)