Friday, October 1, 2010

how to kick poverty in the ass

Hands up if you've heard of micro-financing?
I hadn't. Then I saw some program on Their ABC which had me in tears, and changed the way I think about genuine poverty and how we can fight it.

This is taken from the Kiva website
" Microfinance is a general term to describe financial services to low-income individuals or to those who do not have access to typical banking services.

Microfinance is also the idea that low-income individuals are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty if given access to financial services. While some studies indicate that microfinance can play a role in the battle against poverty, it is also recognized that is not always the appropriate method, and that it should never be seen as the only tool for ending poverty. "

Blah blah blah

What it means to me is this:

As a family in a wealthy nation, we have no real idea what it means to live in abject poverty. (altho Fabio is certainly seeing it first-hand now!)

Micro-financing gives us a way to help people help themselves.
We loan small amounts out to people who have already decided that they are going to work their way out of their situation. So half the battle is won, by their attitude and determination.
They use the money to start or build their business, and they pay the money back in tiny amounts. Once the money has all been repaid, you can re-lend it to someone else.

It sounds awful, to LEND money to people who live on less that we would spend in Maccas on a single family meal. But in actual fact, if you think about it, this is really a very empowering way to fight poverty.

Also, borrowers are often women. And those women develop a real sense of purpose and self. And typically, rates of violence against women drop in areas that have a history of micro-financing, because all of a sudden, they don't have to put up with crap anymore. Can you imagine a better way to help a sister out?

If you want to know more, Kiva is an organisation that we've been using for years. The link will take you to their ABOUT page.

PLEASE take a few minutes to have a look.
(I know you're all busy but this is so worthwhile, and just think what you'd be teaching your kids about being caring global citizens!)


  1. Interesting and informative. Thanks.

    All the best, Boonie

  2. I've heard of Kiva before, years ago when it was newish, I had info about it in my mailbox. Snail mail box.

  3. Hi Chick chat readers, I thought i might expand on Toni's Kiva comments, as you might have guessed, i am in the Philippines trying to turn a small unprofitable gold mine into a large profitable one and i have seen first hand, what third world poverty really means to people, first let me say that i am deeply impressed with the philippino people (Pinoy), when i go shopping in one of the local stores i am often one of the worst dressed people to be seen, they are clean, happy, family oriented, industrious and friendly people, what they lack is opportunity. Take Tumac for example, he is my driver/body guard, he is a 28 year old married man with one 4 week old daughter, he lives in a 3 room bamboo hut that i pass every day on my way to work, he works my schedule which means up to 18 hours a day, he completed high school with honours and 4 years of college to become a forensic police officer at the top of his class, unfortunately the police examination takes the top 120 persons out of 5000 aplicants and he came 126th, so this extremely well educated, multi lingual (4 languages), skilled, funny, integrity driven, well conected man works for the princely sum of 8000 pesos a month, Just short of $200 in aussie dollars, in many ways he is lucky, He has Philhealth, the local version of H.B.F., another of my workers did not, when he collapsed and injured himself, the local hospital would not treat him until his family had come up with some cold hard cash, thats poverty.
    2days ago i saw 2 young wives fighting over a piece of firewood, that's poverty, yesterday i saw a boy (maybe 10 years old) nearly washed away in a raging torrent of thick muddy water, coming off the mountain that i am mining under, after 3 hours of torrential rain trying to pan gold with his family, he literally risked life and limb to put food on the table, that's poverty. Here in this magnificent, beutiful, proud and dangerous country, money is indeed life, so little can do so much, years ago Toni and I decided to support Kiva without really understanding the impact that it can have, now i truly get it and i will support Kiva till the end of my days. Yukiful na salamat Di. (good evening and thank you esteemed ladies).....Fabio

  4. Hi Toni and Fabio.
    Having a Philippino "helper" here (like nearly everyone else) has completely opened my eyes to the Pinoy plight. Our helper earns less than AU$1000 a month, and for that she does childcare, shopping, cooking and cleaning. And compared to most other helps, she has a high wage and good conditions (i.e. we give her Saturday off as well as Sunday, she has a bedroom, she is allowed to use the airconditioner (!!) etc. etc.). She has four daughters at home. Before she had this job, sometimes she had to ask her neighbour if she could pick a vegetable from their garden so her kids would have something to eat with their rice. She had to ask me how to clean the toilet because at home they only have a bucket. She is saving up to put a floor down on her house so it's not dirt anymore. Frankly it's REALLY hard not to just give her money all the time - but then that invalidates her terribly hard decision to be away from her kids in the first place. These wonderful people have fortitude and dignity like I've never seen. I have written about her/their situations before and I intend to write more. Thank you for your observations.

  5. Thanks for that comment, Jadeluxe.
    Someone told me years ago that coming back to Australia was like coming to Legoland, where everything was neat and tidy and perfect. We grizzle about so much and completely forget how blessed we are.

  6. Toni, after living in Asia for 5 years myself, you realise that we really do.."live in the lucky country" and it makes me really angry when people here in Australia run it down.... there is an old saying.."try walking a mile in someone else's shoes" HOW TRUE!!!!!!! and spare a thought .. or more.. for those that are not so 'lucky'


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