Below is the women and the academy that we helped provide a loan for, from your comments!
The donation for this month is up to you as well! I’m planning on donating to an organization that work’s with children, as I’ll have one of my own soon, and it’s important to remember there are those who might not have the same opportunities if we don’t spread our resources. Read about Margaret and feel free to subscribe to updates from her! Then don’t forget to vote on were this month’s donation should go.
Margaret Juma is a 55-year-old entrepreneur who lives with her husband and six children in Rongo, Kenya. She trained as a community health worker to provide home-based care to people living with HIV/AIDS in her area.
Margaret (pictured with the children) is a proprietor of Westland Academy, initially started in 1998 as a nursery school with 40 children. Since then, the school has grown to 156 children. The school takes children from nursery level to primary level (now in class 6). Out of the 156 children, 63 are orphans, some of whom Margaret has taken into her home.
Owing to increased enrollment in her school, Margaret requires US $ 1200 to renovate classrooms that are in poor shape.
This Morning I received an email asking for advice:
Hello! You and your wife bought some cloth diapers from me through Craig’s List. I recognized your name when you were hosting at Nashville Is Talking, then found your personal blog. Small world, right?I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks now. You’ve definitely pricked my suburban conscience. My family’s not image conscious to begin with, and we do all the comfortable “crunchy” practices like driving an old Volvo, wearing only secondhand clothes, breastfeeding, etc. Yet I’m aware that I’m lacking in the person-to-person expression of Christ’s love. I hurry my children past the homeless at the downtown library. My childlike response to help has been squashed by a parental need to protect my children, to teach them wariness with strange men. I know you feel fearless now, but there’s a vulnerability you feel when you are a mom out alone with small children.So I’m asking you for advice! Can you suggest a safe way for a mom and kids to help the homeless we encounter? Small bags of portable food?With thanks,Eager to Help
Dear Eager to Help,
First of all, let me say thanks for the diapers. We are about six months from being ready to use them, but excited as the time approaches. I’ll also say I’m anything but fearless right now. As I think about raising a child in this world, I definitly feel a desire to protect and yet teach my children to engage in this world, “in it, but not of it.” I’m honored that you felt compelled to ask me for advice, so without further ado, here it is.
Let’s talk about the fear for a minute. I wrote a little while ago about Guestrooms for Jesus, where I said fear and protecting your family was a lame excuse. I meant it was a lame excuse for inaction, not that protecting your family wasn’t an okay thing to do. In other words, don’t feel guilt about your desire to protect your children, I’m sure that is a God given desire in your heart. We are called to “Love our neighbors,” and I can think of no closer neighbor then family. As you’ve begun to realize though, if this is keeping you from loving other neighbors, particularly those Jesus talks specifically about, the poor, hungry and thirsty, then you probably have room to grow. I know I certainly do. So, what are some practical ideas for you to do to help those in need around you? Let’s start with your first idea.
Gift Bags are a great idea. The Homeless Guy (Nashville’s very own blogger, who you should definitly subscribe to), wrote a wonderful post about what he would suggest you put together for Homeless Gift Bags. I added my two cents about Gift Bags, with an additional note about money (I really break down the money idea here). Stick a bunch of the bags in the car behind the passenger seat and let your kids help and see that the homeless are not to be feared or shunned, but to be joyously acknowledged as part of your community.
The next idea I have is to start educating yourself a little more on the homeless, particularly in Nashville. The Homeless Guy blog is a good place to start. The other group I would Highly recommend is the Nashville Homeless Power Project, probably the coolest group in Nashville right now. If your Wednesday afternoon’s (1pm at the Downtown Presbyterian Church) are free, check out the Living Room, a discussion group among homeless and “homies.” You can also volunteer with them, but at the least Join their Mailing List. Another great group that isn’t working specifically with homeless, but definitly those on the edge is the YW. They are also a great organization and work specifically with women in need. They’d be great for you to volunteer with. Also, I have helped out with a group called Food Not Bombs, who serve potluck meals every Sunday. If you want to come up on a Sunday and hang out and eat a meal with us about 1:30pm at the Veteran’s Memorial, that would also be a good chance to just meet some folks in a safe environment.
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. I think far too often we create a dichotomy or a tension where it doesn’t need to be. I think you hinted at one that many of us are quite guilt of: parenting/children – interacting with those in need. Our perception is probably more accurately: Safety of Children – Getting near Dangerous Crazies (does that sound a little more honest?). The truth is I don’t think these things need to be in tension. I think first of all we need to recognize that “safety” needs to not be our first concern. God doesn’t call us to safe living. I know lot’s of C.S. Lewis fan’s like to quote this passage from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe referring to Aslan, The Lion:
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God calls us to be faithful, just like he did to Abraham (almost sacrificed his son and then took his family on a unknown journey to new land), Daniel (remember the lions den?), Paul (went through all sort’s of trouble to share the good news), and even Jesus (they killed the dude). Now, we aren’t talking about dangling your kids off balconies or anything like that, but we are talking about being faithful to God’s call to care for those in need, and to do it with your children in tow.
And this is where I think we really get to the important part. Too many kids are being raised in “christian” homes where the Christianity that is being modeled is nothing like what we see in the stories of the Bible, but a safe religious practice, that holds personal protection and well being and satisfaction above all other callings in Scripture (which by the way I don’t really see the former in scripture at all). So, we have whole generations that grow up assuming there is no conflict between their suburban living and the scripture that they read. The Christianity we see modeled today is not the same as that we see lived out in Scripture.
I really care about protecting my children. But the protection I’m thinking of is a little different. I’m not too scared of scrapped knees, dirty hands, or the stinky breath of someone we’re talking too. I do want to protect my children from the “patterns of this world” and worldly treasure that moth and rust destroy. I want to protect my children from believing in a Christianity that has sold it’s soul to the materialistic, money-hungry, image driven, and earthly-focused society that we live in.
Protect your children, by all means. Just make sure your protecting them from the right things.
You can click on Nancy’s picture to read more about her, but basically I had the great opportunity to join with 4 or more other people in supporting Nancy’s entrepenuership business in Mexico that is run by her with the help of her husband and sons.
This wasn’t a handout, it was a loan, one I except to receive paid back in full in about 6 months or more. There is no interest on the loan, and there is the slight risk that the loan won’t be paid back. I guess that’s a risk you take when your loaning money, seems to have worked for the banks and credit card companies. Seriously though, it’s amazing that I can loan money I have available to someone to help their dream come true.
Now for some explanation. Kiva is a new micro-financing organization that is harnessing the power of the of the internet to help bring the basic service of bank loans to many around the world that don’t currently have that service available to them.
Think for a moment what you would do if you lived in a place without banks. What would you do with your money? Imagine not having access to loans. Most couldn’t drive the car they have, live in the house they do, or have the job and college education they’ve received without being given a loan.
Kiva is not a charity, but it is a great opportunity to bring justice and basic dignity to many in the world who have dreams and have lacked the resources to fulfill them. Kiva also has had a 100% return on their loans to hundreds of entrepenuers.
I learned about micro-financing in college and thought it was a brilliant concept, but one that couldn’t be entered on the very grass roots level for your average person in the U.S. trying to do something good. Now, Kiva has made that possible.
So, stop sitting on that $1000 you got in the bank! Start giving out some loans!