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!)