…if only I knew someone real, someone legitimate, on the other side of the world, who was struggling, who needed money for a legitimate business venture, who wasn’t just looking for a hand out but a hand up…

I remember watching one Oprah episode where she talked about some photography book that had been sent to her and her minions at the Oprah show and how it was full of pictures of war and privation, and instead of turning away, they *forced* themselves to look through it, to encounter the tragedies that were the everyday realities of people around the world.

Now there are times when Oprah can be kind of shallow. All the fashion and botox kind of stuff! You know! But there are other times when I think yeah, I know what you mean.

The more comfortable our lives become, the more tempting it is to just completely ignore all the people struggling out there.

And yet I remember that Palestinian lady who came to visit, a humble righteous woman, who looked around at my simple home and said in a profound way, “It’s good your house is simple. Then you don’t feel guilty for all the poor out there.”

And she was so right.

The first time I heard of micro-financing was about that Muslim economist from Bangladesh Dr. Muhammad Yunus who established the Grameen bank and began the idea of microfinance loans.

It really is an excellent idea!

A way of giving back and I urge EVERYONE reading this to participate in an initiative that my husband began called Helping Hands International.

First of all join KIVA.  Then join our team Helping Hands International.

Our personal commitment is to support a thousand worthwhile causes (see the page my husband set up to keep track and to help others understand how they can get involved at http://www.1000worthwhilecauses.com)  and to encourage as many people as possible to join us and then have them invite their friends and family to get involved.   We do so simply because  we want to: “gladden the hearts of other human beings, feed the hungry, help the afflicted, lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and remove the sufferings of the injured.”

For those who only want to support loans that follow strict Islamic principles (ie no interest to be paid, so there is no exploitation of the borrower at all) please see: http://www.kiva.org/updates/kiva/2012/05/01/kivas-approach-to-lending-and-islamic.html as KIVA has local partners that provides loans that are shariah compliant.

KIVA is a non-denominational international organization that partners with locals in 76 different countries all over the world and monitors the funds that are microfinanced out to deserving people/projects, and the best thing is YOU decide who is deserving and how much you want to lend!

Now the money you give is not a grant. It is a LOAN. And KIVA has a 98.95% repayment rate of all the loans. That means the people who get the funds, repay the loan and it goes back into YOUR pot to help others!

I think the most impressive part of KIVA is that it’s lent over half a BILLION dollars to poor people all over the world!!!!

It’s like you can see the struggling farmer, and from the goodness of  your heart, and the hearts of countless others, you can reach out and give $25 at a time!

And everyone I know can afford to give $25! I mean geez, louise, we spend that on coffee every month!!! It’s chump change!

Btw, I chose the Palestinian tomato farmer!  http://www.1000worthwhilecauses.com/151/9-greenhouses/

I remember a time, not so long ago, when times were tight, when my kids were young. I remember reading in the Quran that what you give in charity never diminishes wealth! That God will multiply whatever you give, so it comes back to you! And that’s precisely what I have found to be true.

I remember when times were really tight, and I didn’t have cash to give, and in the local paper they’d send a paper bag for the food bank. We were supposed to fill it up and drop it off at the fire stations. Whenever I did that, within days, I would get a new child to babysit, or some other job would come my way.

So please, I urge you to help.  Join KIVA  and join our team Helping Hands International.

Don’t turn away!