The average parent wants her child to understand kindness and charity. At the same time, in today’s world, she wants her child to be safe. Young children in particular, having observed a parent’s kindness to a stranger, are just as likely to try to duplicate that kindness by approaching a stranger on the street or outside their school.
A safe way to introduce a child to concern for her fellow human being may present itself in the non-profit organization known as Kiva .
Perhaps you’re already familiar with Kiva and just hadn’t thought about getting your children involved. For more information about the organization, please see my article “Stretching Your Donation Dollar in Tough Times”.
Briefly, Kiva makes micro-loans, to individuals and groups around the world, using your dollars. These loans are then re-paid to you, and you can cash your loan back out, or re-loan it. You get to choose who you invest in.
This is where your kids come in. The loans are made in $25 increments. Perhaps you can co-sponsor a loan with your child. Go to Kiva, sign in (or sign up) then go to their “Lend” page. With your child you can select who you’re going to make your loan to.
This will give the child a chance to see and understand, with your help, how her loan can help someone else. Each loan request includes a photo and a brief story, telling why the person or group wants the loan.
A suggestion while you’re browsing: these loans are often sponsored within minutes, so if you see someone you think you may want to lend to, save them in your “shopping cart”. This will give you a bit of time to decide. That way if your child gets attached to the idea of lending to a particular person, you won’t lose your chance.
Kiva lets you search for the loan you wish to make in several ways, including the continent you’re interested in. So you might find a loan to make in the country your family came from. This also gives you an opportunity to look at a map with your child and talk about geography and travel.
Kiva also lets you select the loan by type of occupation from agriculture to transportation. Maybe there’s a connection there to your own line of work, or that of an ancestor.
Lending to Kiva is also an opportunity to talk to your child about money. Which aspects you might discuss would depend on the child’s age and level of interest.
I’d suggest, since Kiva lets you organize your search by loan repayment terms, that you might wish to begin with a shorter term loan. By lending to someone who only wants a loan for four or six months, you’ll see the money repaid more quickly. This will help keep your child’s interest up.
Another thing you might do, since Kiva posts payments made on your portion of the loan in your account, is make a graph to track the loan. This poster can include a print of the person’s photo to make it more real.
If you have more than one child, they could each sponsor someone, with or without your help. An investment on your part of one hundred dollars would cover four loans, minus whatever you decide (with your child’s help) should be their portion of the loan.
This is a safe way to introduce your children to charity, kindness to others, and concern for their fellow human beings.