Sunday, January 07, 2007

microlending

As I've been working on my animal profiles for the Discovery Channel, and in the back of my mind thinking of how I can use my life to help the poor and wildlife and the environment, I asked my favorite listserv, Ecolog-L (ecology list), about any proven projects that both alleviate poverty and help wildlife or the environment. And I've gotten some great responses.

Through a series of links I came upon the concept of microlending, which I'd heard of before because if I recall correctly someone won a Nobel Prize for this concept recently. A professor in India, Muhammad Yunus, developed a concept of lending small amounts, $50-100, to the very poor. He was surprised that not only did the small amounts lift them out of poverty and let them become financially independent, they paid the money back. He since started the Grameen Bank (means "Village") that is not only profitable, it has lent out millions of dollars to impoverished people and Yunus has been the visionary behind thousands more institutes around the world that are following suit. Some 6,000 microlending institutions now exist, and this is just something I'm thinking very seriously about thinking how I can get involved in. It's a beautiful concept, and I would love to be able to invest in or donate to such an amazing project.

Here is an article at the Stanford University website on it from the 2004 Global Business and Global Poverty Conference conference.

Visionary Economist Muhammad Yunus Shares Microlending Success Stories

The other thing that has been on my heart is that I was thinking about - and I wrote this to a friend and I'll post it here - that I would love to come up with a way to create a program that would make women and children in refugee camps (which is what most of the refugees are) who have been raped and beaten and humiliated to smile again and laugh. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? I think of how, and I don’t know. I just know that when you can teach a wounded soul that they can smile again after all the horridness of humankind, then the good wins and the “evil” loses. So many people let the darkness take over, and they live their lives that way. I don’t know that I have any special talent for making people smile or laugh, but I would love to figure out a way.

Sometimes just very simple things can do so much.

1 comment:

The Quintessential Feline said...

Wendee, whether you realize it or not you change the world with every thought and article you publish. I am amazed by your gift! You pour your heart and soul into everything you do. Even with this last post, you wore your heart on your sleeve. Thanks to you, I too will look into microlending. What a terrific idea! As for your idea on making women and children refugees smile again, I will think on that one and let you know what bright ideas I come up with. God Bless you, Girl! :)