Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sometimes We All Feel Ineffective

When presented with issues that really matter, when presented with true human suffering, like genocide in Darfur the shipbreakers in India, or the downtrodden in Afghanistan, it's tough to know how to react. You may, like me, develop a literal ache in your gut.

Frankly, what is happening to so many of these people makes me angry - angry at those who have destroyed these people's lives, and angry at the rest of the world for not doing something.

And right there I stop in my tracks.

What, exactly, am I doing to aid these folks? Well, I've written letters to my representatives and I've always made a point to raise awareness, much to the annoyance of my peers. But really, what action have I taken that prevents a child from starving to death?

I haven't done one single thing to put food in the mouth of a child, or to provide clean water to a refugee. And, frankly, the amount of money I could donate is pitiful. While my $25 donation might make me feel better, and it might keep a child alive for a few weeks, it's really a drop of water in the desert. I'm not just fighting a losing battle, I'm fighting a hopeless battle. How, HOW do I make any long term difference?

Well, I came across something today that gives me a little hope. A company called Kiva is giving you and I the opportunity to fund entrepreneurs in the developing world.

This is all done by offering microloans. In this case, the loans are financed by you. That is, you provide as little as $25 in capital for a poor entrepreneur, and you will get that money back. Can you put 50 bucks on hold for a little while? Excellent.

The best thing about this plan is that it moves people toward a sustainable future, not continually based on aid or charity. My $25 might be part of making a family stable for years to come, and that, I think, is an admirable goal.

No comments: