While on vacation in India, we met women who make coir. Coir is rope made from the “hairy” bits of coconuts. These women MAKE COIR, with their bare hands. All day. Every day. In the heat. For VERY little money. They MAKE ROPE.
|Making coir (rope) out of coconut|
|The finished product|
|Busy making coir|
|Look what they made us! We will always keep these pieces of coir|
|She let me "help"!! Such an honor.|
We also met a man who runs one of many small BANANA stalls. India has many different types of bananas! In fact, one day we bought 9 different varieties and sat down with a local who we consider a banana expert, Prabeesh, and tasted each and every one of those 9 types and were thrilled! Can you believe that in India they have an “after dinner banana”??? A RED banana? They were delicious! After our tasting, we blindfolded Prabeesh and had him taste each and try and identify them without looking – he got 7 out of 9 correct!
Banana shop man cutting
fresh bananas for us to buy
|Prabeesh showing us his banana skills!|
We met people who run tiny shops. We met fishermen who own handmade boats and go out fishing, bringing back what they catch and selling it. We met people who sit on the side of the road and sell vegetables, fruits, or fish. We saw people using heavy irons filled with COAL to heat them, standing on the side of the road ironing clothes for others in 115 degree heat. We saw people selling coconuts. We met a man who is a “toddy topper” – he gets liquid out of coconut trees and it is drunk as a local liquor. We watched people wash clothing by flogging it on rocks in streams and drying it in the sunshine. We were driven in little auto-rickshaws (tuk tuks) by pleasant men. We met men who roast spices then sit on the floor and use very loud machinery to mash the spices into powder form. We rode in a bicycle rickshaw through the very bumpy streets of Old Delhi.
|Fishing with nets from a handmade canoe. Many of the canoes are SEWN together - fascinating|
|See the hot coals inside this HEAVY iron? It weighs around 20 lbs.|
|Working hard to iron clothes at the dhobi khana in Kochi|
|Fishermen bring in their nets in Varkala and sell the freshest fish ever|
|Clothes drying at the dhobi khana|
|Family fishing in a handmade ROUND boat|
|Toddy Topper! He puts the "toddy" in the jug he is carrying. The knives he uses for his work are strapped behind him|
And all of this was very eye opening.
We have been loaners on the micro-loan site KIVA since 2008. Our first loan of $25 was to Emilio, a man in Bolivia who needed $400 to buy more supplies to make leather belts to sell. Emilio paid his loan back in full, so we then re-lent our $25 to Ni Puto Arniati in Indonesia, who used the money (along with $475 in other donations) to buy piglets and pig food for her business. She also repaid her loan in full, and we again re-lent our $25… We have repeated that over and over for a total of 17 loans so far, and each and every borrower repaid us in full, slowly but surely, as they were able. And each time our $25 re-appeared in our account, it was loaned with an open heart to the next person.
I always loved loaning money via Kiva, but our trip to India was the first time I TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD the seriousness and the value of the loans. The people we met in India NEEDED the funding. The average annual income of Indians is around $1,500. Compare that to the median income of Americans – around $50,000.
The Indian people we met were very hard workers. They farm, they fish, they drive, they wash, they sell. They are humble, happy people. And meeting them in person has made me all the more driven to give what I can to them and others around the world via Kiva. Kiva loans can change lives. The borrowers never ask for much (by American standards) – we helped Waris in Pakistan to purchase a buffalo to get more milk ($1025 loan total), we helped Christopher in Kenya get $600 to buy more nails and wood to make chairs and beds, we helped Elya in Jordan in his quest to get $1475 to continue his study in Dental Science… We did all of that $25 at a time.
So today I ask YOU to donate. $25 is very doable to many of us. $25 is the equivalent of a few cups of Starbucks coffee or glasses of wine... We are so fortunate in all that we have: clean, drinkable running water, sturdy roofs over our heads, air conditioning, cars that run… Sure, there are times when we wish we had MORE, but I think it would be safe to say that every person reading this entry has so much more than those asking for loans on Kiva.
Please take time to log onto www.Kiva.org. Set up a profile if you don’t already have one. Look through the requests – trust me there will be some that you can relate to. Choose a country. Choose an occupation. Find someone who you want to help. AND DONATE. Please. Heck, it is not even really a DONATION, it is a LOAN. Your money will most likely get repaid – one of our loans was in Sierra Leone, a country hit hard by the Ebola crisis, and the borrowers STILL managed to repay their $950 loan ($25 of which was from us) which they used to buy sticks to resell.
To encourage you to participate, I am going to send KINDNESS ACTIVIST buttons to the first 5 people who make a NEW KIVA LOAN. Just comment here and tell me about your new Kiva loan and I will contact you and get your address to send you your shiny new Kindness Activist button J .
Working together, we can use our good fortune to help others around the world. $25 loaned to one person might seem like it is not much, but to them, it could mean the world. THANK YOU for donating.
Go here to donate: Kiva