A little Kiva can go a long way!

Ever heard of Kiva?

I first learned of Kiva in my History of Genocide course at Utah Valley University. Kiva is a non-profit organization that facilitates microfinance loans throughout the world from and to individuals or groups in increments of $25.

What I have done is make a loan about every month after I receive my repayments from previous loans. So the money I have already lent which is about eight loans so far, repaying about $15 a month, meaning I only pay an additional $10 or so to complete another loan thus recycling the money for another loan. I’m hoping to continue to do this for years and years to come.

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There are usually several hundred to a couple thousand loans funding at any given time. When I started I wanted to make it a bit personal so I have a small criteria. So far all my loans have gone to women (a little solidarity never hurt right?), I like to choose countries that have been through genocide or that I have visited, and typically I choose to loan to individuals rather than groups. However today I leant to a group in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, I thought it would be a fitting choice since I just saw and reviewed the play Ruined.

During my time at school in several of my courses we discussed how as individuals, students, groups, classes and societies can alleviate the suffering of others. When I am asked what someone can do to help or contribute in a positive way these are my first two responses

    1-     Learn. Educate. Reach out to informative outlets. I recommend this partly because it has to be the first step, you can’t address a problem until you know there is a problem. Partly because in my experience and research that is what others have asked me to do, Tell their story, share their story.

“The compelling reason why we should learn about the Holocaust, and the genocides committed against other peoples as well, is so that we might be filled with a revulsion at what took place and thus be inspired, indeed galvanized, to commit ourselves to ensure that such atrocities should never happen again. It is sadly true what a cynic has said, that we learn from history that we do not learn from history.” found here

1-     Kiva. It is very user friendly, easy for individuals, small monetary commitment, very little time is required, it can give over and over, goes directly to those who need it. Kiva actually received quite a bit of publicity in December 2010 as one of Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things of 2010.

"Dream big. Start small. Kiva started with just 7 loans worth $3,500. Today it has helped fund over 209,000 loans worth over $152 million." found here

If you are interested in Kiva please visit here.

Dreams, Buckets and lists… oh MY!

item: Burning Man

Today is the first day of Burning Man and I have wanted to attend  ever since I read about it for the first time  last year on Flora Bowley's blog BloomTrue and again today here. She is one of the most passionate dreamers and doer's that I've had the pleasure to follow via the blogosphere.

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A little history? yes please! "from its early days on a small beach in San Francisco through its evolution into the bustling city of some 48,000+ people that the Burning Man event has become today. These people make the journey to the Black Rock Desert for one week out of the year to be part of an experimental community, which challenges its members to express themselves and rely on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one's day-to-day life. The result of this experiment is Black Rock City, home to the Burning Man event." found here

I have no doubt I would be a little in over my head at this event but I think it could only have a positive influence on my life. This year isn't my year to attend, but its on the list!

Their mission statement reads, "Our mission is to produce the annual event known as "Burning Man" and to guide, nurture and protect the more permanent community created by its culture. Our intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society. We believe that the experience of Burning Man can produce positive spiritual change in the world. To this end, it is equally important that we communicate with one another, with the citizens of Black Rock City and with the community of Burning Man wherever it may arise. Burning Man is radically inclusive, and its meaning is potentially accessible to anyone. The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, embodied ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship. Finally, in order to accomplish these ends, Burning Man must endure as a self-supporting enterprise that is capable of sustaining the lives of those who dedicate themselves to its work. From this devotion spring those duties that we owe to one another. We will always burn the Man." found here

first timers guide

 

snapshot saturday: San Francisco

As luck would have it in August 2008 my sister Sarah and I were magically in California at the same time for work and were able to spend a magical weekend together! (we also went here)

It still remains one of my most treasured vacations because I got to spend real quality time with my sister and we got to bond in one of our favorite places ever! CalIfORinA!!!

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My first time on the Golden Gate Bridge- I always get a thrill when I can enjoy one more amazing landmark on my list of dreamy places to go.

 

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On roadtrips its common to see me with the music up, windows down, and the wind blowing through my hair. I wanted to try and capture the bliss of our drive from the city to the oceanside for a little lunch and retrospection.

The Pacific Coast Highway is easily in my top 5 favorite places in the world!

israel/palestine dec. 2009

I made a good friend named Aaron in my Peace & Justice class in Spring 2009 and I knew he was planning to spend the majority of the summer traveling and researching in the Middle East. Even though I was completely green with envy I was thrilled for him and demanded we meet up after he returned so he could tell me EVERYTHING!

In the first weeks of fall semester I happened to walk past Aaron and immediately started interrogating him about his travels. He had loved it! So much in fact he had already planned another trip to the West Bank over Christmas vacation. Somewhere between my excitement and curiosity about the Middle East and more specifically the conflict in Israel and the West Bank he asked if I would go with him. Of course I laughed about it, not figuring he meant it seriously, but when he looked at me waiting for the answer I paused to think about it….

Christmas in Israel, Jerusalem, Bethlehem?

I bought my plane ticket two days later.

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My next step was to research the history and what exactly the ‘conflict’ was about.

I spent half of December on the West Bank meeting and interviewing Palestinians, Soldiers and Israelis about the conflict. It was a touching, humbling and nerve racking trip.

On my second day we went to visit the city of Bil’in where there are non-violent demonstrations every Friday. We both agreed being in the demonstration was something we both really wanted and discussed our two options.

1)      We participate in the demonstration on the first Friday in the country which also happened to be my second day in the country.

2)      2) We participate on Christmas Day. Which interfered with out plans to spend Christmas at a permaculture farm and spend Christmas eve at the huge celebration in Bethlehem square.

While I was a little reluctant to immerse myself in the conflict so quickly I thought it may be a good way to get acclimated to the situation quickly and how many chances was I going to have to spend Christmas right where it all started?

We spent most our days in and out of meetings with different people, programs and organizations with our main focus on those pursuing a non-violent resolution. We were there for our own experience and research but also on behalf of the school to get some preliminary information and make contacts for possible opportunities for UVU in the future. Some examples of who we met are refugee camps, the Bustan Qaraaqa permaculture farm, individuals whose livelihood depended on water and agriculture, Tent of Nations, activists, individuals, International Women’s Peace Service.

It’s interesting what you learn while traveling.

1)      Not in all countries is it considered ‘better’ or ‘more privileged’ to be American. In the West Bank it’s considered a responsibility.

2)      In a room full of people who have lived in forced occupation for their whole lives, had friends and family killed in the name of justice, having their livelihood withheld from them, children with a dim and unknown future, diminishing land rights, unreliable access to healthcare… and they were crying for me.

3)      If you want to get married… Go to Israel. I was proposed to three times!

In three words?

Heartbreak. Hope. Humility.