kindness activist

kindness activist

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kiva Kindness - a REQUEST to YOU

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
We were amazed and fascinated by our glimpse into their world.  We were so fortunate to be able to meet them and watch them work.  They are not a “tourist stop” in some Indian factory, there are real local women doing difficult work that were willing to let us peek in.  One woman even let me walk alongside her during one run of her rope making so that I could understand how the magic happens!!  (They wear big pieces of cloth that are stuffed full of the coconut fiber.  They hook a bit of fiber to a metal ring, pull a string that turns on electricity to start the ring spinning, then walk backwards (barefoot on a dirt floor) while easing bits of the fibers onto the spinning end.  Slowly, slowly the rope grows!!  The women’s faces lit up when they saw my expression of “OH!!!  NOW I understand how this is happening!!!” as I walked alongside my new friend.  They even handmade 2 small rope bits for David and I and tied them onto our wrists as gifts.

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.
Spice grinding
Selling jackfruit

Working hard to iron clothes at the dhobi khana in Kochi

Fishermen bring in their nets in Varkala and sell the freshest fish ever
Friends fishing
Selling tapioca
Tuk tuk!

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  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


  1. I'm a few days behind in reading this, but I want to endorse it. I'm a big Kiva fan, too. I just pulled up my Kiva page to see what my totals are. I've loaned a total of $1600--but the cool thing is that that required only $800 in deposits, because half of my loans are from recycled repayments, as you describe. It's a total of 56 loans in 44 different countries. (I'm trying eventually to make at least one in each of the 88 countries Kiva serves.)

    My current plan is to keep depositing at least $25 every month, plus recycling whatever repayments I got that month. The idea is that as I pump more into the system, monthly repayments will grow and grow over time, so that I'll be able to make several loans a month while still putting in only $25-$45 or so (how much I need to deposit to make loans in $25 chunks depends on how much I've gotten in repayments). Last month for the first time, I had $50 in repayments, so I was able to make 3 loans for just my usual $25 monthly investment. I hope it will keep snowballing like that over the years to come.

    If you have not done so already, you MUST read a book called "The International Bank of Bob." It's about a guy who used inheritance money to make a ton of Kiva loans, then went around the world meeting some of the people he had loaned to. His story, and theirs, will make you want to give ALL of your money to Kiva. It really is heartwarming. Plus, you'll understand a ton more of the nitty-gritty of how Kiva works.

    India is a special problem, though. It has strange laws that until just last year kept Kiva from operating there at all. Even now, it can only do so under the peculiar rule that loans won't even start to get repaid until 2-3 years after they're made. So as much as I'd like to help some of the BILLION people that live there, their laws make it really difficult.

    1. Wow wow wow WOW!!!! I love your plan so much!! It is brilliant. And thanks for the book recommendation. I had not heard of that book, but will certainly read it now!!! And I think you definitely qualify for a Kindness Activist button!! Par Please send me a private message via the Kindness Activist Facebook page with your address so I can send one to you!!

  2. I have donated once to Kiva because of you. I need to get back on and do another loan!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great! I am glad to hear that you are going to log back in and give again! The money should have been repaid from your first loan and will be just WAITING for you to choose who to loan it to next! :)

  3. I have donated once to Kiva because of you. I need to get back on and do another loan!! Thanks for sharing!