11 September 2009

How Can Young People Change the World

Following is an article about a youth group from Cary, North Carolina. Great idea. Thanks, Fred, for sending your report and the invitation of this ambitious and compassionate youth group! You have our prayers of gratitude and hopefully will find some folks to join you in this effort. BCS

This summer, I had a question. What work can four high school interns do to promote the Millennium Development Goals, to advance the mission of the Episcopal Church, or in short, how can they change the world?

Last year, when I asked this question, Katie Magee, an intern, created our Kiva Carnival fundraiser. This started our Micro-finance fund. "Micro-finance is the supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor." (CGAP) So we had our Carnival, provided a fun activity for the children of our parish and raised $300. That money went into an account and was loaned out to six people in five countries to help them create or grow a business. We did this through Kiva.org. "Through Kiva.org, people around the would can become micro-bankers to developing world entrepreneurs, who have their own ideas, so we can give them a chance to raise their kids with dignity, send their kids to school, and in troubled places like Afghanistan we can marginally increase the chance that peace can prevail, because people will see there is a positive alternative to conflict." (BC)

Loans made through Kiva are repaid every 6-12 months, and they have a repayment rate of 98%. This means that by 2015, that $300 will have been loaned out at least six times, helping at least 36 people, and will really feel like $1800. The best part is those statistics are only good if we choose not to add any more money for the next six years. We already have another Carnival planned for the fall.

So this year when the question was asked, "How can you change the world?", the answer was simple. We need to get other youth groups, other churches, other Episcopalians involved. We need to create an upbeat and professional way to inform our fellow churches of this great opportunity. We need a website promoting micro-finance. And they were off. With a shoestring budget and all the creative energy in the world, they created http://www.smallloansbigideas.org/. The website promotes micro-finance, the MDG's, and has some fun ways to raise money for this cause or any other.

Check it out, get involved, and join our group. For as little as $25 , you can directly get involved with someone from one of over 100 countries around the world. Kiva lets you choose who gets your money, gives you the details on their business, and will give you updates on how things are going.

As I reflect on their summer, and try to answer the question, "Did they change the world?"
I realize the answer is no. They created a website and they promoted an idea; they did more than change the world. They helped give you the resources to change the world.

The question is, will you?

Fred Lowry
Youth Coordinator
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Cary, North Carolina

BC = Bill Clinton www.kiva.org/about/quotes/

CGAP = Consultative Group to Assist the Poor http://www.cgap.org/p/site/c/home//

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