So, a few of my friends are lenders over at Kiva. They were discussing it recently, and one turned to ask me if I were a lender.
My reaction was predictably defensive. I do give to charity - both in time and money - but I don't earn a lot so I don't give a lot either. No one was trying to force me, it was a friendly enquiry, yet I felt guilty.
I thought about that.
I thought about the fact that I can take weekends away in hotels, or buy tickets to shows. I can be educated to degree level, then change my mind and do another degree in a whole new subject area. I can buy books, or go out for dinner, or pick up nonsense presents for the boy, or make a million other frivolous and not so frivolous purchases. Sure, I have to think about those purchases; I can't buy all the things I want, I have to budget monthly to keep a roof over my head. But, essentially I know that I can decide to stay in the pub for another rum if I want to.
Not everyone has that luxury.
And so I thought, sure, I give to charity - mostly to causes that have had an impact on my life or my families life - arts education for young people, Alzheimer's research and mental health support services. But, well, why not give a little more? I can manage it, I'll just have to cut back on my weekly purchase of Kinder Eggs.
So, these things in mind, I decided to become a Kiva Lender. I am pledging to myself, and to you out there in blogoland, that for every frivolous shoe purchase I make, I will also make a loan to someone somewhere around the world who doesn't have access to the things I take for granted.
The Ironfist zombie stilettos I brought at the beginning of April helped fund purchase of wool by Vicencia, a Bolivian lady who wants to start a blanket weaving business.
The Wonder Woman Converse I plan on getting tomorrow will help Dilbar from Tajikistan to buy a digital sewing machine in order to expand her embroidery business.
Pretty cool, huh? Cooler still, once those loans are repaid, I can just send the money out again to help someone else.
These people could have been my friends - members of my craft group maybe - had the circumstances of our births been a little different. And I'd like to think, had I not had all the opportunities I do, someone somewhere might be willing to help me buy the maths textbooks I seem to enjoy smacking my head against.