This is one of twelve areas that I’m loosely “resolving” to improve this year.
2007 was a hectic year, so I hadn’t been keeping my books very well. As a result, I have no idea how much money I was actually able to put towards my personal goals for spending money on people other than me and those close to me. My usual course of action would be to try to keep a better budget. However, a Christmas present from my brother has inspired me to think of something a little different.
For Christmas, my brother gave me $25 to lend out through the micro-loan website Kiva. Though it had hit my radar previously (through Darren as well as at least three other websites in my RSS reader), I didn’t go to it – you know, the usual excuses. Don’t want to get my credit card, don’t feel like surfing a site and reading status reports, busy, yadda yadda yadda. I’ve known about microcredit for ages – reading about it through NextBillion, signing up for e-mail updates
that I never receive for the Agents of Change micro-credit on-campus group at SFU (Update (1/25): Sean has sent me a copy of their newsletter since I posted this, and now I have more reading material about their project than I can shake a stick at. Thanks, Sean!).
I think Kiva’s onto something here. Because my brother gave it to me, I found myself in the position of having abundance to share. Despite my relative well-offness, I haven’t often been encouraged to feel this way in my life. In fact, I think I may feel this least when I’m actually confronted with someone who’s desperately asking for something from me, which just makes me feel extra-guilty and powerless aside from giving people handouts that may not go towards what they really need in life, whatever that may be.
So, I am committing to giving two people, for each month of 2008, for their birthdays, the exact same gift my brother gave me: $25 in Kiva credit, to loan out to people in developing countries to work on projects to better the lives of themselves, their families, and their neighbours. The lucky recipients are 24 people from my Facebook Friends list, a mix of people I’ve met in school, co-workers, and other random people who might not be expecting to receive it from me.
I’m glad I get the opportunity to introduce them to the concept (or support them if they are already engaged in it), and to have the experience I had, of reading a story about someone trying something where they are. I expect I’ll get a raised eyebrow or two, maybe a curious stare or even someone who might feel annoyed, that they’re too busy to go read a story or follow up on a loan to someone in a country whose name we’ve barely heard of. Somehow, I’m hoping that the people I know and have varying kinds of relationships with, will not react this way, but instead enjoy the feeling of abundance, and carry it into other positive places in their lives, as I am trying to do. I also hope I’ll hear something from that at all!
I’m not sure know the purpose of the lender pages entirely (aside from the permalink-social idea, maybe), but here’s mine anyway.
Thankfully, all the people I’m giving to in January have birthdays at the end of the month; this could have gotten ugly for right after Christmas.
This is just a baby step in finding it easier, more generally, to acknowledge abundance and to feel good about sharing it.