27 February, 2011

What in Good Gravy is a "KIVA" ???

Kiva is essentially a charity, but it doesn't work by donations. It took me a long time to get my head around how it works. I must say, the info on the website can be COMPLETELY confusing as well. Sooo... here's my simplified version.
People in developing countries need a hand. They ask for a loan - perhaps to buy seeds. Ordinary people like us lend the money. The needy people buy their seeds, grow them, then sell the grain for a profit. Then those people repay the money. Next, we cheer that we got to help someone - for FREE. Sound good?
Kiva, of course, is the site that manages all these loans and repayments, along with "field partners" who meet the borrowers and choose who needs the loans. It is *crazy* exciting to see it being paid back. It's a feelgood you don't get by donating to most charities - because with Kiva you actually get to see what the person did with the loan. And your money has helped someone for free, AND you can then loan it again, to someone else.
Here's a pic of who I loaned to.

This group of ladies is from Ecuador. They all have different reasons for wanting the loan, but here's a couple of examples: one is a single mother studying to become a surgeon, who sells Avon to help support herself. The loan money is helping with her university costs. Another one is a married mum of 4 who is using the money to buy pigs to raise. She hopes raising pigs will one day help her buy a car.

Along with another 106 people, I put in my $25 loan three months ago, and they group have paid back $15.50 so far in regular repayments. What's more, if any of these woman can't pay back their share, all the others in the group step in to pay it back. That's the part that made me confident to go ahead with my loan.

It really isn't a huge amount of money to those of us with a roof over our heads. Not much at all. It would be a lot to donate to a regular charity I suppose - but I would never see that cash again, and probably never know if it really helped anyone. And I certainly couldn't donate it over and over again either. This is why I love Kiva. It will only be a few more weeks until I have the entire $25 back and then I can choose another person to help. Or, if I didn't want that, I could even withdraw it back into my PayPal. it cost me nothing, right? *shrug* But... I am just ITCHING to see the rest come back so I can choose who to loan to next. It's more fun than shopping. Go and have a look.

PS. The Finnish word "kiva" means something's good or nice.

24 February, 2011

16 things in 16 minutes

1. In 1948, it took sixteen minutes for Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion to read the scroll of the Establishment of the State, declaring the country of Israel.

2. A 2010 study by the University of Southern California found that normal-weight children average sixteen minutes more physical activity per day than their obese peers.

3. The space shuttle Columbia was just sixteen minutes from touchdown 0n 1st Feburary, 2003, when it exploded.

4. A child is injured every sixteen minutes on UK roads.

5. Sixteen minutes is the time it took for fire to completely destroy Christchurch's Ballantyne Department Store in 1947.

6. Helsinki University's Finnish 2 course was completely full just sixteen minutes after enrolments opened on 4th January 2011.

7. Someone commits suicide in the USA every sixteen minutes.

8. A 2008 presidential debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton lasted ninety minutes, including sixteen minutes discussing health care.

9. During Detroit's 2009 Marathon, three people died, all within sixteen minutes.

10. The world's second-tallest of its kind, Tokyo's Giant Sky Wheel advertises its ride as "sixteen minute memories".

11. The International Debate Education Association allows sixteen minutes' preparation time per team, during debates.

12. The bus between Prague's Ruzyně airport and the Zličín metro station takes sixteen minutes.

13. A tsunami warning was issued sixteen minutes after a 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit Samoa in 2009, leaving people just eight minutes to evacuate.

14. The Avatar Special Edition DVD includes sixteen minutes of additional footage.

15. An unpatched, unprotected Windows XP install will be compromised within sixteen minutes of connecting to the internet.

16. Michael Jackson's video clip for "Bad" runs for sixteen minutes and was directed by Martin Scorcese.

22 February, 2011

Poor Christchurch :(

I'm just sad for poor New Zealand right now - they were hit today by what's being termed an "aftershock" to September's earthquake. Unfortunately this one was closer to the surface and is therefore more destructive.

These pictures are courtesy of Finland's Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.


...that some of the elements of my blog (namely, small gifs) are now broken, leaving white chunks around the place. This means I have to redo the template completely. Grrrr.