Monday, May 16, 2011

Blood is a Big Expense

I loaned some kid $25 today.

I'm not really sure how it happened. I mean, I remember hearing about Kiva years ago and brushing it off. I remember a professor at school mentioning how she had just re-loaned the same $25 to three different women in developing countries. I remember thinking that it wouldn't kill me if I coughed up some cash to help someone out in a business venture, especially if I just end up getting the money back.

But after that things got a little hazy.

I went to their website, I registered, I poked around their "About" and "Community" sections, I went shopping in their gift store (I mean seriously, I'd consider toting around a bag that said "Wanna Help Buy a Goat?"). I started hunting for my first lendee. I clicked on South America on their world map. (It was a Risk factor. As in, the game of Risk--I always ended up staying on the board because South America just seemed so in-the-corner that no one ever fought me for it.) And up popped Emmanuel.

Emmanuel is this 19 year old kid in Ecuador who opened up a grocery store with his mom, and is aiming to expand the shop to include rice, sugar, and oil. Next to his bio was his picture, standing outside of his shop. Simple, nice looking kid. Non-threatening.

Last night I was telling a friend and potential colleague the horror stories I heard about teaching college students. "It's hard when you look young, but especially so if you're a woman," is what I heard. I told her about how the guys can make sexual advances, and that she had better come prepared, I warned, as her boyfriend who was sitting right next to her clung to my every word, and seemed to have carefully wrapped his hand around her wrist.

But truthfully, most teenagers are like puppies: all energy and no attention span. Things come and go for them in leaps and bounds. It's scary to think that just a few years ago I was that energetic, that full of hormones. It's scary to think that if I wasn't in graduate school, working, and starting a volunteering repertoire in my "off" time, I would still be that energetic. If I take a vacation, I'm pretty sure I'd revert straight back to that high energy state, like a perm on a hot summer day. Somehow I looked at this kid's picture and in the back of my mind my id said "me. That's me," and the next thing I knew, I was lending him $25.

I was lending me $25. Does that, on some account, make me selfish? Or more so like a faint and distant fairy godfather granting secret wishes and unlocking dust covered doors?

Will I get to whisper Italian truisms and talk with my hands while I'm taking care of business?

1 comment:

  1. It took me much longer than it has taken you to realize that "service" or "giving" is a selfish act. We do it for whatever reason we tell ourselves, but really we do it, or I should say, I do it to make myself feel good. It feels good (and it's pretty easy) to give someone $25, right?

    But I think, too, for me, it's a way of saying to my conservative background, "Take that!" I can help others. They don't have to promise me anything. I don't have to be guaranteed a return.

    Thanks for your blog.