Blog action day is organized to get thousands of bloggers weighing in on a single topic. This year the topic is poverty. I know we've all been touched by infomercials or missionary presentations showing underprivileged and hungry children in some third world country. Often these presentations subtly lay on guilt to get us to open our wallets and give to whatever cause is being advertised.
Sometimes we find out later that a good portion of our money went to administrative costs. And in some nations the thugs in power often seize donations for their own use. The risk for me is that I can be cynical and grow hard hearted about the real problems of the poor in the world.
I've heard some say that what is truly needed is the spread of freedom in the world. Dictatorships and socialsist countries exploit their populations and care little for their people. While this is true, there aren't many practical ways we as individuals can change the politics of a third world country. But I think we can be involved to make a difference person to person.
There are organizations who are doing practical things such as digging wells. Our church sponsored 2 wells this year. There are also small missionary organizations doing what they can to give aid directly to the poor around the world. And I came across an organization that works to spred entrepeneuership around the world. Individual donors can make micro loans to people around the world who want to start or expand their own home business. The organization is Kiva. I've not done a thorough investigation of the organization, but I have to say that I like the concept. To me this seems to be a way individuals can work to give people a hand-up rather than a handout.
As an additional note, I'd like to see church groups develop some program like this. Think of what it could mean for local churches in these countries if they were the source for small loans to help people become self-sufficient.