Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Menopause, Mortality, and Microloans
When my husband turned 50, I gave him a cartoon depicting the Grim Reaper visiting a man on his 50th birthday. “Have a good time,” says Death to the balloon-festooned, party hatted “I just stopped by to remind you that you’re mortal.”
That cartoon seemed a lot funnier before menopause. One of the many shocks that the Change delivers is an acute sense of a goddess’s own mortality. Realizing viscerally that our time here is finite, we begin to consider how we wish to spend the second half of our life. Time alone to just “be”, trying new things, travel, and putting ourselves first become priorities. The Venuses have supported one another in all these pursuits and more as we’ve mapped out our futures.
Yet, we felt that something was still missing. What were we leaving behind? What contribution did we wish to make? With this in mind, we devoted our fourth annual meeting to “Legacy”. It seemed to us to be a weighty and important topic. Webster’s thesaurus listed synonyms like inheritance or bequest. We defined it more simply. Legacy to us meant “that which we were passing on to others whether through advising, counseling, or setting an example.”
Some of us had grand visions like creating healthy school lunch programs or writing/lecturing women to inspire their innate creativity. Others wished only to live simply and to practice kindness allowing their life’s example to be their legacy. And of course, we all wanted to pass on our great stores of knowledge and life experience to our kids. (You can bet that our offspring could HARDLY WAIT for that!)
Honestly, though, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to give back. A great beginning might be microloans through kiva.org. Most of us goddesses aspired to “Think Globally, Act Locally”. Today, with the magic of the internet, “locally” can expand to the size of the entire earth. My husband happened across kiva.org, a website that facilitates making microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries across the globe. (You may have heard about it from Oprah or Bill Clinton). One can loan as little as $25 (and the rest of the loan amount comes from lenders like you). Photos and stories accompany each request for funds. No big surprise, many of these entrepreneurs are women. Kiva doesn’t take any money for their services, but offers lenders the chance to donate to keep it all going. Money goes through Paypal direct to the kiva partner in the country of the prospective borrower. Paypal provides this service free of charge.
You can loan to a tailor in Uganda or a butcher in Togo (yes, I definitely had to look this one up, it’s in Africa). I love Peru, so we have several loans there. (See above photo from kiva website). One of my favorite borrowers is a midlife woman in Tajikistan who has set up an internet cafe because no one has home computers or internet service available in her town. She is following her dreams AND giving back!
And when the borrowers pay their loans back (99% payback rate which is phenomenal), you can lend it all over again to new entrepreneurs. An added delight is seeing the profiles (and pix if they post them) of those who lend with you to a specific person/venture. Building community and giving back: kiva.org is a website with heart. Click link below to find out more.
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