Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Not a hand-out, but a hand-up....


The woman pictured above lives in Cambodia. Her name is Um Chantha. She is a 49 year old widow who lives in Phnom Penh with her daughter. She works as a grocer, and her daughter sells clothes in the market, earning six dollars a day.

This man lives in Kirkuk, Iraq. He has a small shop in Kirkuk. He fixes old furniture and sells it. He has a big family. He wants to enhance his family's standard of living. He needs a new carpentry machine and will be able to hire three unemployed people to work on this new machine. He is looking for a better life for his family, and also better conditions for his work .

This woman lives in Mexico. Her name is Esthela and she is originally from Garcia in Nuevo Leon. She is married and has one son, with another child on the way. When her husband was laid off, she opened a seamstress shop. As the cost of maintaining her family increases, she is working to grow this business, making clothing for her neighbors and taking orders from clothing wholesalers. She is known for the high quality of her work. At this time she is asking for a loan of $475 to repair her sewing machines and continue to grow her business. She promises to repay the loan in 4-8 months. All she needs is $150.00 to make this happen.


These are just three examples of people all over the world who are trying to maintain or start small businesses which will enable them to take care of themselves and their families well into the future.

I came across this unique idea while surfing the web and was impressed by the organization and the philosophy behind it.

Many people argue against charity, saying it is a "hand out". This is not a hand out. It is a hand-up. This is something for you conservatives out there whose philosophical roots are in self-sufficiency and hard work. These people have earned their bonafides. They just need some help to keep it together. And they make a commitment to pay it back. Perhaps you could encourage them to "pay it forward".

People who issue a loan choose the recipient from an entire listing of entrepreneurs. You are able to support and get to know the individual you will be helping.

The name of the organization is Kiva and you can find the listing at

Please take a look. If you're anything like me, I wanted to help all of them. As Tevye sang in Fiddler on the Roof "If I were a rich man...." but, alas, I am not. Still, I can't think of a better way to get rid of $25.00.


Additionally, please take a look at this, if you haven't already. It is another opportunity to give to an organization that is designed and implemented by two individuals who resonate to the cause and the region. AIDS is an issue in many underdeveloped countries (and some developed) and it is killing people at alarming rates. (A post on AIDS another time.)

At any rate, here are two options to check out. Give anonymously or if you prefer a group effort, check the link above. Any way you want, any way you can.

Note: As a low-income person myself, I well understand that sometimes parting with money is not possible. For those of us who have to count pennies to make sure monthly obligations are met, giving to all of the things we'd like isn't always possible.

I will never, ever, ask for money on this blog. I am not asking for money now. I am asking for participation in any manner possible, including spreading the word, talking about the issues... just sharing the energy. Talk to those who can give. It costs nothing to raise consciousness. Every person has the capacity to be of service to others.




Laurie said...

It really is a wonderful organization, Chani. It's good of you to bring attention to it.


Christine said...

Oh Chani! I just saw a newscast about kiva and just haven't gone to the website yet. Now is the perfect time! thanks, thanks, thanks!

jen said...

i was given a Kiva gift certificate last year and was blown away discovering it.

simply, they are amazing. i love kiva.

meno said...

I've heard about Kiva on the radio recently. To think how several people's lives can be changed with such a small (to us) amount of money.

slouching mom said...

thank you for educating me tonight.

i will check it out asap.

Julie Pippert said...

Thank you for not just putting this out there, but for understanding that for some $25 is an amount that s BIG not small and is something you may not necessarily be able to part with. It' snot a matter of no Starbucks for a week b/c there are no luxuries like that built in.

I look forward to adding Kiva to my "wanna buy me a you go..." list.


flutter said...

thank you for the enlightenment, yet again

thailandchani said...

Laurie, it made a lot of sense to me when I read about it. I thought.. oh, yeah.. I have to recommend this.

How are you doing?


Christine, what timing indeed! :) It was just on the news? Perfect!


Jen, it really does make so much sense. I've always liked the idea of helping individuals. Many long years ago, I was a real sucker for the "save this child" organizations. I'd look at those kids and want to save each one.

There's something about faces being put to these things.


Meno, it can make all the difference in the world. Each one help one.


SM, you're welcome. :)


Julie, it's that inclusive thing again. I don't want anyone to feel like they have to do something they can't do. We all have something to give ~ whether it's money, time, energy or even just good thoughts.


Flutter :) I hope you like what you see on Kiva's site.


Peace all,


Anonymous said...

I read about this at Mad's site last year, but it was probably jotted down on a scrap of paper on my desk and subsequently lost/buried. When they (Jen & Mad) asked for donations to Open Arms, I knew I'd better just go right then and there or the same thing would happen. Thank you for this reminder & this time I'll make a virtual note on my laptop!

On a technical note, your links are in the same font color as your other text, so they're not visible until you hover over. I only mention this because I don't want to miss anything!

Lucia said...

I like the Kiva concept. It makes people feel connected. Like the Heifer project.

Gwen said...

Good stuff, Chani. I'll check Kiva out (but I am one of those bleeding hearts who doesn't really understand what "hand out" means.)

Cecilieaux said...

Only one thing I don't like about the post: the heading. The hand up vs. hand out dichotomy is a false, Calvinistic way of blaming people for their misfortunes (and arrogating to oneself some claim to one's good fortune).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having one's hand out if one is in need. And being in need is not a human failure.

thailandchani said...

C, I agree with you. Completely. The title is meant to grab the attention of those who might feel that way. No sense in ignoring the fact that many people do.




thailandchani said...

De, I wish I knew how to fix the links. Dang! LOL .. I'll try to do something to make them stand out.


Lucia, I'll check out the Heifer Project, too.


Gwen, with you on the "hand out" thing. It's just such a prevalent attitude that it might as well be put on the table for what it is.




MsLittlePea said...

This is awesome. I heard about this from a couple of friends and it was such a good idea. I'm with Gwen, I don't know what a 'hand out' is either. Everyone needs help at one point, be it financially or spiritually.

QT said...

Thanks for bringing this up, Chani. It looks like a great organization, and I love the personal connection.

The Atavist said...

Thes microloans are a big hit in Asia, South America, Africa and elsewhere and are a highly effective way of giving people an opportunity to advance themselves. Default levels are quite low, because typically a larger community of similar borrowers guarantees the loan.

There are a number of organizations that offer microloans. This is pure capitalism at work, and is a much better way to help people than simply handing them foreign aid, which often simply ends up in the Swiss bank accounts of government officials and their cronies.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You make an important distinction between a handout and a hand up. More people should be aware of how little it takes to help so much.

There is an old saying, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat all his life."

Kiva is a wonderful organization. And you are so right. Everyone has the power to help in some way.