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Happy Endings

October 24, 2010

When I was in grade one my teacher sent home a note to my parents because she was concerned about my behaviour at school. Every day at silent reading I would run, push, shove to get the ‘Cinderella’ book as published by Golden Books and featuring the Disney illustrations. It wasn’t the pushing and racing that she was concerned with but rather that I was obsessed with this book. I honestly don’t remember why but I have a feeling it was about the happy ending.

I love a happy ending. And boy do I need one.  It’s autumn here, getting darker by the day and the rain is coming harder, colder and more frequently.  I don’t have an amazing sunny vacation planned so I need other forms of sunshine to brighten my day and keep me going.  I can’t tell you what the wave of happy, that seeing the last Chilean miner rescued, did for me.  After a year of major natural and not so natural disasters all over the world, here was a concrete happy ending.  Everyone got out alive.  With the oil spill in the gulf there is no end; there will never come a time when we can definitively say, ‘It’s all cleaned up!’ Years later New Orleans is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina but in this one international story we can say, happy ending.

Sometimes I feel similar about my charitable giving. I sponsor someone for their walk/ride/run for cancer/Alzheimer’s/the cure and it becomes part of some amorphous thing – you don’t see the direct result of your action.  After Katrina, ordinary people like you and me gave and gave but we didn’t always know exactly where we were giving and what the funds were being used for.  There were stories on the news, wonderful stories of people being helped by various agencies like the red cross and we could kind of feel part of the process but we also heard the stories of misappropriated funds and bureaucratic hold ups.  The same with the Tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004  and the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January of this year.  I’m not saying I will stop my charitable giving but I am saying I didn’t feel like there was a concrete happy ending. And I didn’t feel directly connected to the event or the aid.

I guess in my make up I need to feel like I’m making a difference so, I’m trying something new.  I’ve heard from friends about an organization and recently watched a TED talk on the subject. I’m talking about Kiva.org, a microlending site that is trying a direct approach to help people all over the world get out of a life of poverty. 

I started my account with a single $25 micro loan and scrolled through the 300 applicants that were looking for funding.  It was a hard choice but I finally chose a women’s tailoring venture in the Dominican Republic.  Over the next 24 hours I watched as other microlenders chose the same venture and we got closer to our goal.  When I logged in this morning they were fully funded and could buy their sewing machine!  I felt like I directly helped these ladies towards a better life.  Over the next 5 months they will pay back this loan to my and others Kiva accounts.  When it’s paid back I can then choose to help another group – it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Somewhere in the process I also switched from me and them to us.  It felt great, like a real happy ending.

I hope you’ll check Kiva out, I’ve provided the links to make it easy for you.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jessica_jackley_poverty_money_and_love.html

http://www.kiva.org/

And a little p.s. for those of you who’ve been reading for a while.  My brother finished his first race at a time of 1 hr and 14 min.  The photos are below.

Crossing the finish line!

(okay it might have been the pretty dress and the fairy godmother but still, it was a pretty good happy ending for a five year old!)
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. David C. Jones permalink
    October 24, 2010 9:16 pm

    Thanks for the heads up – I will check out Kiva.

  2. Yvonne permalink
    October 24, 2010 11:31 pm

    What a great idea! I feel the same way regarding being charitable.
    Thanks so much for spreading the word about Kiva…and for being the beautiful generous person you are. 🙂

  3. Theresa permalink
    November 8, 2010 3:00 pm

    Congratulations on reaching 300 readers Kim!!! I couldn’t figure out where to see exactly how many readers you have now. Probably more than 300. That is awesome. Your “Happy Endings” piece is giving me the kick in the butt I need to go back to Kiva and use my account more. I had a small credit through a fundraising conference I attended which allowed me to begin lending through Kiva but I have never supplemented it with my own donation and I would love to see what you have described in action for myself! We need all the Happy Endings we can find in this world! Thanks for helping make me happier!!!

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