Not everything I say is true. However, everything in this blog is verifiable.
I woke up this morning and did not want to get out of bed. I scrolled through my Twitter updates and saw that it was John Green’s birthday. I immediately texted my friend Emily, who also loves John Green. She replied, “What should we do?” My first thought was “Crap. I don’t have good ideas!” Instead I typed back, “Donate to Kiva?” It was settled.
I have seen many posts from John Green about Kiva and becoming involved has always been in the back of my mind. I think I might have first learned about Kiva a few years ago when Natalie Portman was involved.
I went to their website and found it was very user friendly. I, of course, joined the Nerdfighter team. I started clicking through the borrowers, reading each story, looking at each face, bursting with possibilities. How can you select just one? Are they not all deserving of realizing their dreams through their hard work? All they need is a small loan to change their lives and that of their families. My own life experiences pulled me toward the women, especially those who were looking to ensure better futures for their children.
Ultimately, my first (but not last) Kiva loan went to a woman in Kenya. Her name is Saumu. She is 41 years old and married with 6 children. What most impressed me was that 5 of her children still attend school. When I was working on my Master’s degree, I did a lot of reading about education in Africa and I know how family needs supersede education. Survival trumps books and chalkboards. As a teacher that grim reality hits me hard. People shouldn’t have to choose between the two.
With just a few clicks, I was able to contribute to Saumu’s loan. Saumu raises hens. Her loan will be used to buy more hens to raise in her coop in order to increase her income. Saumu’s write-up said “She is a woman who is hardworking and enterprising, a fighter. She has always worked, and she is not afraid to take on a challenge. She says thanks to her husband’s help and her work, she is getting ahead with a lot of effort and sacrifice.”
This summer I spent some time reading about social justice education and social justice writing in the classroom. I’ve spent some time thinking about ways that they can be incorporated into my classroom.
I think that one thing I would like to do this year is have my students become Kiva lenders. If every student donated just $1 or even some spare change from their lunch we should be able to make at least 2 loans outright. And then re-invest of course. I might also be able to team up with one of our school clubs to raise more money.
Imagine how empowering it would be for my students to know that they were helping someone on another continent change their life. I think the experience will also open up opportunities for discussions about global issues. I really don’t know where else this could lead. They might end up writing to other people about their experience with Kiva and encourage them to lend money. It might encourage them to go out into their own community and see who needs help.
If we want our children to change the world, we should lead by example. I can’t wait to share this story with the students I haven’t met yet.
I can’t predict what is going to happen. But I have a feeling it is going to be amazing.
I am really glad today is John Green’s birthday.