One of the biggest things I struggle with on a near daily basis is the idea of doing good, or as one of my favourite authors puts it “decreasing world suck”. It’s probably one of my main motivations for pursuing a career in medicine. (Well, that and all the babes.)
It’s easy to let the thought of doing good be buried by pretty much everything else in my life, and to spend all of my time focusing exclusively on me, my environment, and those people immediately involved in my life. I think that’s a pretty human thing in general.
Lately though, I’ve been thinking a lot about how lucky I am. I live in a comfortable home in a developed nation, where I have food and healthcare, and people who love me. I live in a place where I can convince a bank to lend me a nauseating sum of money so that I can pursue a career in medicine. And earlier this year, I was able to visit another country, a definite luxury.
Recently, John Green (co-coiner of the phrase ‘world suck’) has been posting a lot about Kiva. I first heard about Kiva through my roommate, who had made a few loans of his own. The whole premise is explained really well in this cute video, from the Kiva site.
What I really like is the idea that this is an investment, rather than a donation. It’s not just a thoughtless tossing of cash at a problem halfway around the world, as a way to absolve any privilege related guilt you may have. Rather, the process is very involved, with over 3,000 borrowers to choose from. You get to read each story, and decide where to invest. And along the way, you get updates about how your investment, and others like it has helped the borrower to achieve their goals.
For me, and most people I know, $25 is not the difference between eating and going hungry, or between paying my rent and being evicted. Most people my age can drop way more than that on a night out, and not really think about it.
What’s even better, is right now John Green (the guy is awesome, truly) has sponsored a bunch of free Kiva loans. Which means you can make a loan FOR FREE to get a feel for how it works.
After browsing the loans on Kiva, I settled on investing in this group. First, they’re from Masaya, the village I stayed in while I was in Nicaragua. It was a beautiful place, with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but it was also heartbreakingly poor. Second, the group is made up of women, all of whom run shops to support their families. In Nicaragua, over 70% of the women were unmarried, and directly responsible for supporting themselves, their children, and often their extended families. An unmarried woman and her children are not considered by the government as a family, and he idea of child support, or alimony is completely non-existent. Lastly, I liked the mandate of the supporting field partner and their “emphasis on the holistic development of women“.
I never know how to end these things. Kiva is awesome, go check them out now.