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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to us, but lets talk about those less fortunate.

Merry Christmas everybody. I hope everyone is immersed in holiday cheer,and are enjoying family, lots of good food and gift exchange.

This post will not be humorous or entertaining in any way. I know that's not like the Spazoid theme, but sometimes, you just have to get serious. If you do need a chuckle in the Spazoid style, please check out the new About Me section for a laugh or two. Please! I worked hard on it!

Not too long ago Drowsey Monkey introduced her regular readers to a charitable organization she donates too. It's called Kiva, and I believe that this is the very BEST third world charitable organization that has EVER been conceived, that I've ever heard of.

You're probably asking for an explanation, and not to worry, I've got one coming.

Most third world charitable organizations that I've heard of focus on saving the children. They want you to sponsor a child for a small amount of money, and this sponsorship feeds, clothes, vaccinates this child. Without that sponsorship, that child would likely die of starvation and/or disease.

Please don't get me wrong. The horrible images these charities plaster on the T.V. sicken me to the bone. Watching those suffering children makes my skin crawl, and I just want to feed them all, make them better, do SOMETHING. It appeals directly to my emotion and by passes my logic.

But logic prevails. My logic tells me that this is a band-aid fix only, and will help the problem for now, but will create a bigger problem in the future.

You see, these children are starving because the economy and resources of the country to which they were born cannot support them. If it cannot support them then they do not get food and they die. Best case scenario says that they should not have been born in the first place. It is the way of nature, and nature is a cruel mistress.

Let me give you a theoretical example of how things are made worse by these charities. All the numbers here are numbers that I've pulled out of my ass for effect. I don't know the exact numbers, but I do know this scenario to be true.

Lets say the first world has a maximum of 10,000 money units to donate per year. Lets say it takes 1 money unit a year to feed and clothe a third world child, and there are 10 third world children this year. That makes a surplus 9,990 money units available. Great, those children are full, healthy and grow up to have children of their own. Ten children makes 5 breeding pairs. Each breeding pair has 10 children each, making 50 children. Those 50 children are also starving, because remember, the resources available have not changed. Thats fine, because with 10,000 money units available, that leaves a surplus of 9,950 money units and children with full bellies.

Using this scenario, how long will it take before the money surplus turns into a deficit? In 5 years, there will be 31,250 extra starving children from the original 10. Since the maximum amount of money units available from the first world is only 10,000, that leaves 21,250 children to starve to death.

In effect, these band aid charities have saved the first 10 children but condemned 21,250 children to death in the future with a band aid solution. That doesn't sound very charitable to me, does it?

You might be saying to yourself "but we can't just do nothing!". You don't have to do nothing. You can donate to an organization that helps fix the root problem. You can donate to Kiva.

Kiva is absolutely brilliant. Instead of treating the symptoms of the disease, they treat the disease itself. Kiva gathers first world donations to give to third world business as loans. The third world businesses use the donate money to purchase supplies and training for their services and shops, and repay the money once they are up and running. One of the best parts is that it helps these people keep their dignity, and someones dignity is a powerful need, almost as much as keeping fed.

This bolsters the third world economies, which in turn draws in more money, and more services. There are more jobs for people, more resources, and more resources available to the people. That ensures that the children born there, are born to parents that are able to take care of them, and they get fed under the resources generated and owned by their own parents. And since there is an economy in that country, the children grow up to be able to do productive work and feed their own children.

Kiva takes your money, and loans it to the third world business people in need. Once the money is repaid, you can choose to take it back, or re loan it to another third world business in need. Personally, I plan to donate a small amount of money and just keep it rolling through those in need, like Drowsey Monkey is doing.

It is not a perfect system, and there will always be hardships everywhere. Sometimes you may lose money as it's not able to be paid back. Again, this is the way of the world, you can't make it perfect. What you can do, is make sure you help in the right way. With the money I'll loan out, the risk I take is lose the money, OR truly help someone in need.

Please, if you are interested in helping third world relief, send your money to Kiva and help fix the problem, not the symptom.

10 keen observations:

Jay Cam said...

thats a great idea!

i might join in myself and help some people have a happier christmas.

billymac said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I hadn't heard about it before.

Cyberpunk said...

hey i'm in a third world country... i accept donations through paypal :D

seriously though, I've never been a fan of donating to poor people except during calamities...esp nowadays that I see poor people everyday and see that most of them are poor because of their own fault...but I support animal-related charities...

Kiva sounds great tho. Every now and then I fantasize about creating an org that loans start-up capital to poor people who want to start their own business, no matter how small...I just fantasize, since I don't really have money, but if I did, I would want to help people who WANT TO HELP THEMSELVES (and not just any poor person)...so it's nice to know that someone elsewhere feels the same way :D

DrowseyMonkey said...

Excellent post! Yes I know I'm biased...but I'm glad you looked into Kiva.org and made your own decision on whether to invest.

I first donated a year ago & have 2 loans repaid...and have since re-loaned them.

Thanks for continuing to spread the word about this great organization!

tanninety said...

What is to stop us from donating to the children's fund and educate the kids now about population problems in the process and then help them through kiva when they grow up?

I guess logic wins over showing love to a child?

Mike said...

@Jay Cam - It's one of the few charities that I believe to be truly helping.

@Billy - thank Drowsey Monkey!

@Cyber - sorry, but if you have the internet, you don't qualify. Ok, I can give you money, but you have to come over and do things like shovel the driveway and drywall my basement :P

@Drowsey - My pleasure, thank YOU for bringing it to my attention

@Tan - if by showing love you mean ensuring even more kids starve and suffer in the future, by all means, do it.

Have you not ever heard of the give a man/teach a man (to) fish parable?

tanninety said...

Children on the streets or in the slums are a result of incompetent parents or the willful accidents because the asses are too lazy to use contraceptives. Some are born just so they can be put into child labor to support the family. People on kiva seem like the people that don't let their children out on the streets but want to give them a better life by doing competently that is possible by them. So just by giving out to kiva we are not eliminating by any means a considerable amount of the sperm scum and receptacles that are out there that are producing kids just for the heck of it. The "disease" is far worse than a kiva can solve. If we can edumacate the people of the vices of overpopulation, that would be a better idea.

I do see what you are saying but I don't think the solution warrants only an either kiva or children's fund fix. It should be AND. We should help the adults who want to help themselves and help the kids who can't help themselves and turn them into self dependent individuals who won't become tomorrow's problem.

Mike said...

I understand exactly where you are coming from. I might be a hard ass, but I don't see how those charities that keep the unwanted or unsupportable children alive to make more are doing any good.

Kiva DOES need an AND. That AND aren't the childrens funds that are most popular on T.V. THAT is what I was referring to.

tanninety said...

We can shake hands on that. "Let's feed the little buggers and give them medicine" so they can survive another day just so they can learn that life's a bitch, doesn't really do that good at all and I agree with you there. But if they are made aware of the irresponsibilities of the adults that made them to suffer through that in the first place and educate them about the perils of "god said to multiply" and teach them to stand on their own and support them through kiva, then that would be a very good solution.

I think overpopulation will over take any global warming concerns. I think at this point people should consider having one child and seriously stop at two.

DrowseyMonkey said...

Hey Mike - PBS Frontline is doing a show on kiva.org...it was on last night but I missed it, but they're going to replay it later in the week. Maybe check the PBS website to find out when it will be on in your area.