Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's a small world after all...

Storyline #1:  So we've been doing an AWARENESS unit in my 12th grade class.  They have formed groups and researched a need in the world that God would desire change in and then highlight one ministry helping alleviate that need and making the change happen.  They created a posterboard with pertinent info and statistics on it, as well as action cards highlighting small, but significant ways people could help out the organizations.  Much time was put into it and they did a quality job (I think).  It culminated in "Awareness Day" this last Tuesday immediately after school, normally set aside for clubs.  Kids could come and interact with my students on the various issues, all the while hopefully being compelled to actively get involved and help out one of the ministries. Here's some of the posterboards.

International Justice Mission works to get at the root of the systemic injustices of the human and sex trafficking industry through changing the legal parameters in oppressive societies
Charity:Water    $20 can give someone access to clean, safe drinking water for life
-They also have a great website with pertinent info displaying the pressing need and loss of productivity that comes from not having access to clean, safe water

1 in 6 women have been sexually assaulted. RAINN seeks to be a resorative ministry to these women

Now...push PAUSE on these Awareness ideas...we'll come back to this storyline

BEGIN storyline #2:
So Faith and Therese (our house help) went to a market over spring break, a couple weeks back (yeah, this blog's not always top priority).  Thus, I was sole caretaker of the girls.  What do I do when this happens?  Get out of the house.  That day the girls plopped down into the stroller and we headed for the park.  Letting them zone out and seeing the sights and sounds of our neighborhood was the goal. Mission accomplished.  Stumbling upon a soccer game near the zoo was a bonus

The girls playing at a fountain in Dakar's only park, Hann Park near the school

On the way back from the park we passed by a blue metal shack on the side of the road, where it was selling food and advertised some sort of " (insert Senegalese sounding word here) Poulet".  It was called Chez Penda. I know poulet means chicken...and I know that I like chicken.  I also like trying new things, but it was on the opposite side of the road. Add to that the girls were getting  antsy...and hungry, so I  didn't know if it would be a good time to stop.  walk 10 more steps.  still intrigued.  pass the joint.  walk 10 more steps.  still feel for some reason that I should turn around and go check it out.  I do a U-turn and go check it out. It was basically a typical Senegalese eatery....small operation that fixes a rice dish with heavy oil and either fish or chicken meat with veggies and spices.  I order the dish in broken French.  She tells me something in French or Wolof.  I don't say anything back but she went back to being busy, and I assume she's getting it ready.  I take the girls out of the stroller, plop them down on her counter, and let the Senegalese get their kid toubab fix.  We wait and watch the 3 ladies in tight quarters talk and do their thing.  The time being 11:30, and me being a toubab (a white person), I was hungry.  However, the typical Senegalese don't eat lunch til 2 or 3.   We wait 5-10 more minutes.  I inquire as to what's going on....as best I can.  She then gets somebody else, who passes on to me that it's going to be another 30 minutes til it's ready.  I say no thank you to the order, buy some small corn fritter looking things and 3 fatayas (meat and minced onions breaded and fried) and off we go back home to make a normal toubab lunch.


Storyline #3 (which relates to storyline #1):  In an attempt to broaden some of my student's worlds a bit, I had them play a fun, old school geography game online (on geosense.net...I warn you it's addictive) and then highlighted a few areas (human trafficking, access to clean drinking water, microlending), as well as specific ministries within those areas that were doing phenomenal work.  One of the ministries was kiva.org.  It basically allows you or I to help fund small business ideas around the world with as little as $25.  It comes out of your bank, paypal, or credit card account and then is repaid over a period of 9-13 months.  At no cost to you.  And they have a 98.5% repayment rate.  Anyways, I think it's a great idea and blows my mind how easy it can be for those with "much" to help those with less.  Many people's $25 loan, coupled with a good idea and work ethic, can transform lives and not cost you a dime.  If you like youtube and want to see a video on kiva, check out here (3:39)and here(1:36)).
Anyways, so I thought this kiva idea was phenomenal.  I put it in my mental notebook to set aside one night over spring break and have it be a kiva night and look up people on kiva's website in Senegal who I could help.
Fast forward 10 days later (not over spring break, but hey, I did eventually do it).  I'm sitting on the couch and looking up those who applied for loans using different subsidiaries kiva has a relationship with.  I was curious how many people in Senegal have applied for loans from kiva subsidiaries.  There were 52 in Senegal alone.  3 pages worth!  I couldn't believe it.  On the third page I come across a lone restaurant operator applying for an $825 loan.  My jaw drops!  I couldn't believe it!   I'm sure you guessed it by now but Penda, the lady who owns the blue metal shack on the side of the road to the park, had applied for a loan through kiva.  I was floored.  I literally couldn't believe it.  Granted, 30% of Senegal's people live on .3% of the land, that land being the peninsula of Dakar, but still, what are the odds of her being on there and me being able to lend her money?  Needless to say, I decided to help fund her loan.  After that night, her $825 was 42% funded.  24 hours later she was fully funded and her loan was taken off.  Amazing...at least I think.  Even more amazing when you think that her loan was only available to help fund for 48 hours or so and that it just so happened that is when I was online looking, and that I had just so happened to walk by her place for "some strange reason" a week earlier.  Kinda crazy...

Here is Penda's picture off Kiva:

So I of course had to go by again with the girls and say "Bon Jour" to Penda...and finally have a chance to try her grub.  Here's a pic of Penda's restaurant.  I brought the girls, too, as their presence is always appreciated. 

Penda and her help and some good looking toubabs with a steamy bowl of Thiebbou Wek

small world, huh?  The crazy thing is that you or I could help somebody just as tangibly in Bangladesh or Belgium from our very own computer.  I hope it's contagious....because it felt pretty darn neat being able to help somebody else out. 

Right before this pic, I printed out her pic and profile from Kiva.org and gave it to her to keep.  Her face lit up and now she's got it hanging on her wall at her boutique. 

Kiva's motto is "loans that change lives."  I agree


dave and amy terpstra said...

Amazing story! You're a rock star.

Adrienne said...

I love this story. I love reading the stories of people on Kiva and donating — I'm envious y'all came across someone!