Friday, March 30, 2007

Helping People Help Themselves

I have studied about poverty in undeveloped countries of the world and I have come to believe that the only way that people are going to be able to get out of poverty is for them to help themselves. Of course, they need tools to help themselves. I have supported Heifer International for a few years now. This is a fantastic org that gives livestock to people around the world. As a donator, you can give money to buy a flock of sheep, a herd of goats, or simply one pig, etc. You can even buy an "Ark" or a portion of a cow. When a poor person receives this animal, they are able to sell milk, wool, etc and use that money to buy food, clothes or education, plus receive the benefit of having additional nutrition for their family. And, once the animal has its first offspring, that offspring must be given to another member of the community. It is a program that keeps on giving. I remember one time when I watched 60 Minutes, an African girl's family had been given a goat. Through the sale of milk, the girl was able to go to school and then receive a scholarship to study in the USA. Please check out Heifer International at

I just learned of a new non-profit org that is also doing wonderful work. In a recent column, New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof wrote about Kiva, which helps American lenders give money to people in need in poverty-stricken countries. You can loan money (starting at $25) through Kiva to people in places like Samoa and Azerbaijan. You can choose whom you want to send money to. Both women and men apply for these loans to help buy supplies for their bakeries, groceries, farms and clothing-making businesses. This money is a loan, so you should receive your money back. Most loans are repayed. Mercy Corps and other non-profits are helping to find the borrowers and research their needs. According to Kristof, most commerical lenders in Third World countries charge interest of several hundred percent, but not Kiva. Kiva gives the borrowers a chance to make a better life for themselves, their families and the employees that they are now able to hire in some cases.

What I like about both of these programs is that it puts power directly in women's hands. These orgs give women the ability to provide for their families and to help them in a world where woman aren't treated equally to men. I encourage you to visit Kiva's website

or you can also watch a video posted by Kristof on his recent trip to Azerbaijan where he met the man that he had lended money to.

Assai Ah Kee, a Samoan woman, who needs a loan to purchase food products to sell in order to pay for school fees, etc.


Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness is never decreased by being shared.


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