Changing the World, One Loan at a Time (Kiva – A Online Charity)

Something my mother always taught me is that, when giving away money to people in times of need, always label it as a loan. It doesn’t matter if they are your closest friends, or if you wouldn’t expect it back/don’t want it back anyway. When someone says something is a loan, there is an obligation to pay it back; the person on the receiving end will take great caution with their spending. It is not something applied to a hypothetical world –I see this behaviour in myself.

For example, I once received a $20 gift-card from my Auntie to spend at Target. I was short on things to buy, and ended up buying some heavily overpriced chocolate, low-quality headphones and a notebook that I never used. However, all that time shopping, I remember being so thankful that I didn’t have to repay the money –I had not spent it on things I need, not even the slightest. In fact, I’ve never been more careless with my money. Although having it in gift-card form did limit my options, I’m sure that, even if it was money, I would be just as careless.

I think there’s a no-strings-attached feeling to receiving money. When somebody loans you money, there is strings attached –and, subconsciously, you make wiser and more thoughtful decisions.

This is why I love Kiva so much. You hear of fraud and theft around the world with money that’s supposed to go to a good cause. However, with the condition that it is a loan. By keeping this in mind, there is less chance of frauds, leaving little-to-no money to those who actually need it. Kiva has a good reputation, receiving 4 stars (the highest rating) over at Charity Navigator.

For a limited time, you can get a FREE $25 in your account to loan for anybody you refer. One of the reasons I’m making this post is because it’s such a simple way of making a difference. Below is my own referral link, but leave a comment below linking to who/where you want to donate it to, and I shall do it –any positive difference is a wonderful thing. Then, it’s more of a Pay-It-Forward  trait from there onwards; invite friends, family and others around you.

>>> Click here to sign up!

(And don’t forget to leave a link to who/where you want me to donate the $25) 

Last note: If the link doesn’t work, simply sign up from the main page, and add “http://www.kiva.org/lender/MidnightAria” to the “referral” area. 😀

***

Onto a more personal side of this post… (The following picture was used writing the majority of the post. Beautiful photo; got so many ideas from this).

The reason I began looking more at charities and volunteering areas, is because I realised just how short life is. And there is so little we have control over. However, it’s something I can change in the world, despite the many things I cannot.

Recently, I found out a classmate of mine from last went through a horrifying, tragic accident. The details of her story I don’t want to include in this post, because it’s not my story to tell. But while I was worried about trivial things, like schools and exams, somebody else is burdened with sorrow I can’t begin to imagine. When I found out about this, I was internally complaining about the number of assignments/exams we’ll be getting this term. Maybe that’s why I feel an immense amount of guilt. There will always be someone in a worse situation than me.

But most of all, I realised just how helpless humans are. We can’t stop death, natural disasters, the emotional pain plaguing every country… but there are things we can change with money. It doesn’t necessarily buy happiness. However, it can provide a better base for those derived of such privileges; things we consider as a basic human right. Fresh water, a sufficient amount of food and hospital treatments/medication when required.

Maybe I’m being too idealistic. Only recently have I recognised how naive and painfully optimistic I am. But the few moments of cynicism I felt, hearing someone else’s story that doesn’t compare to my own, are too heavy of a burden to bear.

Now, I’m trying harder to make a difference, even when there’s very little I can do. But I suppose that something, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can always make a difference. The following is one of my favourite stories by Loren Eiseley, which I believe suits the theme of this post well.

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
“It made a difference for that one.”

“The Starfish Story” by Loren Eiseley.

***

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