Sunday, January 11, 2009

Joining the Kiva

Last summer, I saw the ruins of a kiva, a hollowed out room for spiritual practices, at Homalovi, a site in Arizona where the proto-Hopis may have lived.  The site flooded sometimes but most of the time the river sustained their culture with its water.  Windblown red sand, willows leaning over the river, shards of grooved and painted pottery laid out on big slabs of red sandstone--my husband and I were the only ones there, and we found it profoundly moving.
Today, I joined others in microfinance, through a web site called Kiva.  I remembered the kiva we saw last summer.  Microfinance was started by Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus, via the Grameen Bank that he founded.  It lends money to the poor, giving them a hand to begin a business that can support their families.  Kiva works similarly.  I paid $25 via credit card and selected Atsina Doris in Ghana as my loan recipient.  I joined others and she still needs more willing lenders before she'll receive the amount she requested.  I have loaned through Kiva before, and although there are no guarantees, I expect to have all of the loan repaid.  The poor are a great credit risk, as it turns out.  It's another kind of Kiva, but both seem spiritual to me.