Well, it’s time to write about our most recent Caroline Project donation. I mean, it’s almost been a month since we’ve done the donation… I’ve been feeling a little guilty about not writing sooner. I’ve been hesitant about writing anything else until I write about the next Caroline Project, and consequently blog entries are stacking up in my mind. Writing this post started to become an ominous thing on my to do list- hanging over my head. But then, last week, I remembered some key things- The Caroline Project is supposed to be something that keeps us accountable on a regular basis, but not something that is intended to be done on a strict time table. Most importantly: It’s not something we’re doing so that other people can read about it… the Caroline Project is meant for US. To change us.
And it IS changing us. We can see it. We can FEEL it. Again and again it is happening…us looking beyond ourselves, beyond our disappointments and even beyond our successes. The result is this really cool healing. I cannot wait to tell you more about it. Here I could easily digress to one of those aforementioned blog entries that are stacking up in my mind. Focus, Anna, focus:
For Christmas, and for the seventh Caroline Project, Joel and I chose to give each other microloans from Kiva. In case you are not aware, the very brief explanation of micro loans goes like this: A person who owns a business, usually in an underprivileged country, applies for a loan with an overhead company. That person (the borrower) indicates how much money they need, and what they need it for. Other people can then become lenders and contribute loans to the borrower in $25 increments (by paying the overhead company and choosing which borrower will receive the money). Those separate $25 increments add up to whatever amount is needed. The borrower then repays the overhead company. The idea is that once the loan has been paid back, the lender can put their initial $25 into someone else’s loan.
There are many different microloan companies. We picked Kiva based on recommendations from others. Kiva tracks things like the percentage of the total that is already funded, the borrower’s repayment history, etc. The lender can read a detailed explanation of the borrowers business.
What I love is that you, the lender, can choose which person you’d like to support. You can sort by gender, country, specialty, etc. What I love even more is that $25, the amount of money I can get by cleaning out my car and going through the pockets of our dirty laundry before it goes into the wash, can actually help someone make a different life for themselves and their family. A hardworking, brave person can maintain and improve his or her business because of a very small sacrifice on my part.
Plus, we had a blast choosing for each other! For me, Joel chose to loan to Silvia, who is with a group of women in Cuenca, Ecuador. She applied for a loan to raise money to grow her chicken business (her goal is to have a bigger pen). I mean, for REAL! Way to go Joel! For one- It was important to him that he chose women. He knows that I firmly believe that the empowerment of women = change for the better. (I cannot say enough about this, and yet I am finding that I can barely formulate sentences about this conviction…the empowerment of women- from my backyard to the most remote places of the globe…it’s as if for the very first time I’m seeing how urgent this is) And…I mean, chickens….come ON! As you may recall, we got chickens last spring and I’m kinda crazy about them. Additionally, Joel chose this because he was born in Ecuador. I was going to choose a place in Ecuador for HIM, but he nabbed it first! (There was only one loan in Ecuador when we sat down to choose.)
For Joel, I chose to loan to Hipolito, a pastor in the Dominican Republic, who runs a water project that provides purified water to the 30,000 people who live in his community. The $9,000 loan helps the company invest in supplies including a truck, five-gallon bottles, sterilization supplies, etc. I chose this for Joel primarily because it is environmental in nature. Our bold conviction is that Christians (rather- everyone) need be thinking and taking care of the environment. 40% of people in the world lack basic water sanitation. Water- something that is NEEDED TO EXIST… a basic human need and right. We are convinced that, with proper environmental stewardship, this major injustice could be greatly reduced. If people in all parts of the globe had access to clean water, their lives would be changed forever.
The other day I got an email that Hipolito has made a loan payment of $0.64. Sixty four cents, you guys… Consider that 1.2 billion people in the world live on $0.23 a day. Consider that Hipolito’s payments are being divided between the 227 other people who have also loaned to him. To me that $0.64 is a MAJOR DEAL.
I’d love to keep highlighting microloans. If you’d like to share your experience with Kiva or other microloan companies, please leave a comment on this post.