I just learned about Kiva and am totally and utterly wowed by it. This doesn't have much to do with homeschooling per say, but it could certainly be a project that your entire family could embark upon to help someone out. It's the coolest thing! Next to the piece of fudge I just ate while sitting here.......fudge is pretty cool, too. I'll tell you more about Kiva in a sec.
As each old year turns over into a new year (kind of odd to think of it like that, but I guess that's what we've been conditioned to do - the way we mark time), I always stop to draw in a deep, slow breath and reflect over the year that has transpired. With the next breath, I mull over the things I would like to tweak, change, overhaul, do over, or just plain abandon for myself, for our way of living, for our family of humans and animals. I can be fairly determined when it comes to things I deem of importance, so if it doesn't fit my ideal, out it goes. I'm mostly talking about things like growing an awareness of how we are living, what we can do to make changes that are better for ourselves and for the world we live in. Last year these changes encompassed starting a garden in raised beds, raising some chickens to harvest fresh, nummy eggs, bringing home some baby goats to help quell our weed problem (one thing I don't care to raise is weeds), and figuring out a composting system so that all of that chicken and goat waste could be turned to garden gold. We also made efforts to recycle more carefully and eschew plastic bags and containers. The last thing I want to turn into is an urban farming snob, but if you saw me this morning dressed up in a ridiculous long coat, hat, farming gloves, scarf all covered with straw, hay and goat smell, you'd agree that I am definitely not the snob type. I was more interested in keeping warm while out doing chores and collecting eggs!
This year I wrote out some goals and ideas for more improvements, or for what I consider to be moves in the right direction. More time on the bicycle to run errands, no more plastic bags (we still get funny looks from clerks), and bigger composters (which Max's dad is working on today). I would also like to find a way for Max and me to volunteer to help others, whether it's of the animal or human variety. There is an awesome horse rescue and adoption center in our area which might be a candidate. This idea is on my list to research. Maybe Meals on Wheels or a local food bank? Not sure yet. Maybe we can grow extra food in the garden this year and donate it?
Anyway, Kiva.org is a remarkable idea now set in motion via the Internet. Here are a few words from Kiva's "about" page, which explains what they do so much better than I can (at least they use fewer words than I do - I have trouble being succinct, especially when leaving messages on people's voicemail):
Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.
Kiva was born of the following beliefs:
•People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
•The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
•By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.
•Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
•Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
•Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.
As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.
Women in Kenya are applying for loans to be able to purchase small farming implements so they can grow more food to both feed their families and to sell. Others are asking for help to open small retail ventures to help support their loved ones. Countless requests, small amounts to help them live better lives. The loans are paid back over a specified amount of time. That's all in the fine print if you choose to learn more about what Kiva does. I think it's the coolest.
Maybe raising money for people in need here and all over the world can be a family homeschool project somehow? I lent $25 to a woman seeking a plough, seeds and fertilizer so she can grow more food to sell so she can in turn take care of her three children; her total project ask was $575 and fourteen people stepped up to loan her the money via Kiva's services. She lives in Kenya and her dream is to educate her children. What a privilege we are given to be able to educate our children on our own terms, with the time and energy we have. That's because many of our basic needs have been met (food, shelter, warmth) and we have the energy to tackle other endeavors like homeschooling our kids. I wish this woman my very best and trust that she will be able to meet her goals with a micro loan. I'm excited to learn of her outcome!
Visit Kiva.org today with your kids. Thank goodness for more warmth in our world, huh?