Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘independence’

A Multi-faceted Ruby

NairobiBloodstarNairobi Bloodstar by Carole Hall
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

You know a good writer when you read one. Carole Hall is such a writer. Nairobi Bloodstar pulls you into Kenya in the late forties, as if you were just there yesterday. The characters (Charles, Karl, Annalisa, Nils, M’tebe, Michael) are flesh and blood men and women that could have been historical figures, though this is a work of fiction.

Starting at Karl and Annalisa’s mining operation in Kenya, the story follows each individual, at the points where they are related and intersect, and there individual lives, thoughts and feelings. It is like a great ensemble cast in a play, when they are all believable and well played. Ms. Hall’s writing style also reminds me somewhat of Agatha Christie, who was one of the most adept of all time at describing her character’s appearance, emotions, thoughts, traits and personal history.

The story takes place as a number of countries are seeking independence in Africa from the English, Portuguese and French, and at the same time Jews are fighting to establish Israel in Palestine, and protect their new nation from assault. There are romances and alliances throughout, but in many ways (to its credit), they are the background and not the main entre. Individual and national independence, as well as finding personal happiness, are at the crux of this tale. Choices are made, with many unexpected results.

There are no pat answers, conclusions, or moral certitudes in Nairobi Bloodstar, much to its credit. There are people from a variety of cultures who are genuine and will have you caring about each one.

Don’t Look the Other Way

Stop for a moment and answer this question: What can you buy for $2.50? These days, not much. A bottle of water. A candy bar, perhaps. Maybe a bag of chips.

Now think about this: Right now, half of the world’s population—more than three billion people–is living on $2.50 a day or less. With no money left over to dig their way out of poverty.

You can look away as they struggle – or you can take action.

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A small loan can be all an enterprising individual needs to begin down the path to success. Just $25 can provide a microentrepreneur with goods to sell at the local market. $50 or $100 can allow an individual to buy a sewing machine, or a refrigerator to keep food for resale from spoiling overnight. They’ll be the ones doing all of the hard work – all they need is a little help from you to get them started.

We reach more than one million clients in 22 countries – most of them women. Women in particular are using their businesses to provide for their families and to earn independence within their communities. While some 13 million worldwide have already benefited from microcredit, the need is still estimated to be 200 million people.

Around the world, our clients – and potential clients – are ready to work hard to get ahead. All they need is for you not to look the other way. You may take action and make a donation today.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

Better Than Commerical Banks

Better Than Commercial Banks

We have always been proud of our FINCA (Foundation for International Community Assistance) clients and the success they achieve. After all, they have an astounding on-time loan repayment rate of over 98 percent – as good or better than many commercial banks expect.

But today, we’re writing to you with a very special message: Our client success is now the best we’ve ever seen!

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When our over one million micro-entrepreneurs get the hand up they need, we never cease to be amazed at how far they go – entrepreneurs like Victoria Banda of Zambia. A 36-year-old woman who never finished primary school, she is now the main income earner for herself, her parents, and her two sisters. Starting with a loan of just $20, she now operates her own store and helps her younger sister through college.

That’s a lot to accomplish for someone who started with just $20!

We’re blown away by FINCA clients like Victoria – and hers is just one of many incredible success stories. They do the hard work to get ahead, but that first step towards success would never have been possible without people like you. When you provide an entrepreneur with a microloan, you are the turning point on their path to independence and opportunity.

Thank you for your generosity.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

The Mahatma

The Mahatma
by Gabriel Constans

Mahatma Gandhi was one of India’s most celebrated citizens. He practiced and advocated nonviolence, and helped India gain its independence from the British in 1947. As a strict vegetarian and a proponent of living simply, his primary diet consisted of rice, as does that of most Indians. This is a tasty smoothie, as good as the best Indian food anywhere.

Photo of Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein having a drink together.

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Yield: 4 1/2 cups

3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped cashews
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3 cups milk (soy or rice)
1 1/2 cups cooked short grain brown rice

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute or longer, until desired texture (smooth or creamy) is reached.

Pour into small bowls or cups and serve.

Grateful Interdependence Day

Yes, in 1776 we declared independence from the English, but are we really independent? The prosperity the majority of Americans now enjoy, on this day of independence, has come about because of our dependence on millions of people throughout the world. Without the continuing supply of cheap labor from a stream of immigrants and the importation of sixty percent of the worlds’ resources, much of our perceived strength and image of self-reliance would collapse into a pile of deluded dust.

The food we stuff ourselves with daily; comes from a long line of inter-related, inter-dependent actions. Most Americans buy their food at a grocery store, but before it is placed on the counter, in the freezer or on the shelf, countless hands have touched, processed and grown the product we so easily consume. There are the truckers, the farmers, the packagers, landowners, farm workers, equipment, supplies and natural resources, to name but a few.

Our families depend on one another for safety, for health, for education, entertainment, recreation and personal enrichment. Our communities use the assistance of county, state and federal support for finances and security, which come from our neighbors’ taxes, time and contributions.

In spite of these realities, we cling to our separateness, our individuality, our belief that we must all “stand on our own two feet”, “pull up our bootstraps”; be different from “all the rest”.

Sickness, loss and death tend to shatter these illusions. When you’ve had a loved one die, taken care of an ill family member or needed care from others, it’s nearly impossible to remain independent, yet many, including myself, try to “go it alone” and find it difficult to accept help from others. We’ve been so ingrained with the idea of self-reliance that it feels like pulling teeth to ask for or accept help from another.

I often hear from clients that one of the most painful transitions and the most surprising, is how difficult it was for they or their loved one, to ask for or receive assistance and care. To accept someone’s help implied weakness, debt, dependency and shame. It’s OK to give to and care for others (and the sense of control that provides), but it’s not OK to receive or accept the same care from another?

I don’t wish to imply that independence, self-reliance and self-determination are not valuable or important qualities for personal and societal survival . . . they are . . . but at what cost? Must we wait until we’re so sick we can hardly move, so overwhelmed we don’t know what to do next, or in great emotional and/or physical pain, before we remember how close and inter-dependent we all are? Can we use the 4th of July as a reminder not only to celebrate our independence and sovereignty, but also our connection with and gratitude for the lands’, nations’ and peoples’ with whom’ we share this planet?

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