Thursday, August 12, 2010

Microlending through Kiva

Here's a quickie update on one of my pet projects: the link on the right margin is to Kiva, a microlending broker that connects people who want to help others out of poverty by loaning funds to help improve an entrepeneur's chances of success.  I was introduced to Kiva through their work in Guatemala, the homeland of a very special member of my family. (You can see her pictures in some of my other posts.)  Recently, some of my loan repayments came through, so I used those proceeds and added some more to loan to another Guatemalan woman. Here's her bio from Kiva:

Ana Andrea Juarez Curruchich                     
Location: San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Activity: Food
$1,150 Loan Request
$375 Raised So Far
$775 Still Needed 
Loan Use: To invest in her activity.
Currency Exchange Loss: Possible

"Andrea is 57 year-old trader working in the municipal market of San Martín Jilotepeque. She sells meals there every day, and at home she breeds pigs. The loan she is requesting will be used to buy pigs, animal feed and maize. She dreams of increasing her meals sales and to have a vending stall, as right now she sells her products in the square of the municipal market. She is thankful to FAPE and KIVA for the support they are providing, as this will help her making her dreams come true."  (This is typical of the bios on Kiva.)

I see honesty, patience, endurance, and a lifetime of hard work in her face.  True beauty.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Giving advice, taking advice.  It's a funny thing.  I tread lightly around the subject--since if you give someone advice and it's wrong (and they follow it), that's not good. And if you take someone else's ill-considered advice, you could end up worse off than you were before. 

Around my office there is a group of women who eat lunch together and talk in the kitchen. One in particular constantly gives out advice (this is the same person whose husband is studying for the ministry and I debated briefly about evolution and the age of the earth.  She's in the 6000 years old camp.) Her advice is quick and sure--"you can't let him do that"--"you've got to put a stop to that..."  Uninvolved in their conversation, sometimes I chuckle to myself, thinking that if life were that easy, we'd all be in fine fettle.  I can't understand how she can judge a person's problems, solve them, and feel capable of giving out advice in under five minutes.

I only give advice if I'm quite sure of the subject, and I often do a little research "just to be sure." And even then I'm reluctant to suggest what another person should do, and only give advice if absolutely necessary.  And as for taking advice--I'm generally too hard-headed to know what's good for me--and surely too much so to think that other people might know it--so that's another tricky subject. 

I will add that I have learned that if my dear, honest, intelligent husband (who doles out advice to me the way I do to others--rarely and carefully) actually asks "would you like my advice?" I do two things: (1) begin re-thinking through what I'm about to do, and (2) say yes and listen.  My nature is to not want to take advice, but I have learned over the years that if my husband speaks up, he always has a point, always has my best interests at heart, and, more often than not, he's about to stop me from doing something I will probably later regret.  So even if I really don't want to, I take his advice.  And, time after time, year after year, I look back and know he's been right.

What brings this up?  A friend of mine sends out a daily message (I've mentioned it here once before) which usually contains a daily inspirational thought from a "motivational expert." Not one to get all excited about motivational experts, I usually skim over it.  But yesterday's message contained this:

"If you were someone else, what advice would you give yourself? If you could step back from being you, and look objectively at what you're doing and how you're living, what changes would you recommend?

It's easy to imagine the straightforward advice you'd give to someone else, because you don't have to follow that advice. Now imagine applying that same level of honesty and objectivity to your own situation."

It made me think. Is there any simple advice I should give myself? What have I been missing that I might simply have known all along?  Am I too close to the situation to see the forest?  Has my connection to my own journey made me less than honest in my self-evaluation? (I accept loss of objectivity, it's the nature of the self.) But, should I try to step back and be objective?  What would I tell myself if I did?

Perhaps to take some steps out into the direction or directions I might want to move. To not let fear stop me from moving forward. To believe, trust, have faith.  To get the stuff done that I know must be done in order to move forward.  To listen to that little voice which might be hinting at opportunities yet to be seized.  To look for feelings inside myself, learn to identify them and see where they lead.

What about you? Any advice?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My State Fair, Part III

At the far corner of the Fair, the antique farm equipment organization displayed some of their best pieces.  I loved the bright colors, the beautiful lines, the link to our agrarian past. 

Have you ever heard of an Oliver tractor?  This is a 1950 model "66."  Oliver began as the Oliver Chilled Plow Works in 1857; James Oliver merged his company with the Hart-Parr Company (which made tractors beginning in 1900) and two others in 1929.  The last Oliver green tractor was made in 1976.
I heard several young people exclaim "It looks like a tank!"  while I was getting the shot below.  It is a 1931 McCormick Deering "Trac TracTor."  Cyrus McCormick created his harvester in 1831 and patented it in 1834.  In 1873 William Deering began competing with McCormick with his version of the harvester.  Their companies and three others merged in 1902 under the hand of J.P. Morgan, and International Harvester was born.  The last International Harvester tractor was built in 1985. 

Here's an Allis Chalmers tractor. They made farm equipment in the United States from 1914 until 1985.
Here's an angle with a few of the tractors; love the bright colors. 
Below is a beautiful red and yellow Massey Harris, from a Canadian manufacturer that began making mechanical tractors in 1847, moved to Toronto in 1879 as Massey Mfg. Co., continued as Massey Harris in 1891, and then became Massey Ferguson in 1958.  I didn't photograph the plaque with this tractor's year, unfortunately.
A very old John Deere; a 1930 "D" model.
Next is an old John Deere seeder/planter on a period tractor.
Last is an Oliver seeder/planter.  The colors are striking! 
It was a nice walk through history...and the beautiful shapes and bright colors activated my artistic side a bit.  While I was there, two young guys (maybe 17-20 years old) walked through; one bragged to the other about his family's tractor and blew the "oooo-ga" horn for the kids.  I loved the fact that these young guys were so involved in farming--it gives me hope.