Archive for the ‘Microfinance’ Category

I Dare You

The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign is a collaborative effort of hundreds of bloggers coming together to write about The Girl Effect on October 4th, 2011.

“The Girl Effect is a movement. It’s social change in action.  It’s about the unique and indisputable potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.”

I chose to be one of the bloggers because I believe that we can help girls change the world.

I choose to support the Girl Effect because of these words “for themselves”… all to often when we want to “do good” in the world we swoop in, and try to fix things before asking the people what the problem is.

I remember hearing about a well-meaning effort of lots of wonderful people who had collected thousands of dollars for malaria nets, and they diligently held bake sales, provided car washes and collected for months to purchase these nets.  When the aid workers got the nets they handed them out, and a young volunteer, fresh out of college, out to save the world, went to the small village to see how their group had ended malaria and bring back her stories to help motivate the community to invest in more nets.  Instead she found that they were using the nets to fish because the people of the village were dying from hunger and the malnutrition put them at even higher risk for dying of malaria.

Good intentions, but they hadn’t stopped to get the wisdom of the villagers before they had jumped in to solve the problem.

But now, with this new knowledge, this community is providing training for everyone- for the local village person to work with the volunteer who works with the people back in her community- to help create lasting, meaningful change.

Now they are working to help end poverty, end malaria and to provide hope.

Having spent 15 years as a Social Worker I know better than to think one movement, one focus, one effort will save the world.  But I also believe that people want to do good things, I believe that most people want to effect change in the world, I believe in the goodness of people, in the purity of their intention.

I believe that there is still hope.

I believe that our good acts, our faith, our kindness, our hope strings together a safety net that keeps people from drowning in fear, in isolation, in poverty, in desperation.

I believe that little actions make a difference.

I believe in the power of people coming together.

It struck me in the video that “When an educated girl earns an income she invests 90% of it into her family, compared to 35% for a boy.  Yet 99.4% of international aid money is not directed to her.”  This is why I believe in microfinance, allowing people that historically haven’t been given the chance to mold their own future.  I have witnessed with my own eyes what happens when you give people opportunity, when you invest in someone’s dream, when you say “you matter, I see you, you mean something to me- even if I don’t know you, I believe in you.”

My friends and I have been getting together for the past few years once every few weeks to have brunch, to catch up on each others lives, support one another and share in all of the ups and downs of our lives.  For the past year we have been talking about how we could do something more meaningful than sit around with our mimosa and bemoan the woes of the world, we wanted to do something.  So we decided that every time we get together we will all chip in an extra $5 that we will then turn around and invest it in another woman who needs our support.  And thus the Ladies Who Brunch was born.

Recently we invested in Raquel on Kiva.org (and if you aren’t familiar with Kiva go check it out!)

Our loan of $25 isn’t going to change the world, but it did just change Raquel’s world, and when she repays it it will change another, and in the meantime we will find another person to invest in and the ripple effect continues… much like the Girl Effect.

Invest in girls and the whole world changes.

When I feel overwhelmed by an issue, wondering where to even begin I always think of one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

If anyone wants to join the Girl Effect blogging campaign, or to read other people’s posts click here to be amazed, inspired and touched by all of the helpers, and bear witness to the good that is happening in the world.

Spread the word. 

Change a life.

I dare you.

Read Full Post »