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little update

18 Apr

Dear Ones

Just a little update on my adventures.

I’ve had my first true experience with Peruvian Shamanism. Wow! This is indeed El Mundo Magico. And did I maybe have a believe that is too romantic, or am I too easily blinded? For what about all the bad spirits preying on us? I know they exists but conveniently held them outside my worldview. Now I am working on my spiritual protection, after so long working with magic and energy a little bit of fear creeps in. This is a serious matter, not a game and certainly not a spiritual holiday. Well I signed up for it, purification, healing, shadow work & freedom!

Then a little update on my Microcredit research, as I am still totally committed to apply to Kiva. An interesting article from the original inventor of micro finance the noble price winner Muhammad Yunus. There is a lot of ambivalence here. Where are the studies that show banking for the poor actually does alleviate poverty and is not just a further spread of greedy materialism?  The problem essentially as I can see it is not the concept of credit, not even interest, which certainly in a revolutionary worldview are doubtful concepts. But as we can see far and wide in this world, the real trouble begun when speculation go involved! Do you know the banks (I mean the big ones, the bad ones 😉 actually do sell Funds and Options on Microcredits to diversify their rich client’s assets. If someone seeks to make profit out of this, it is clear this system will never work. Thus I trust in Kiva, with their global involvement with MFI’s and access to cash, they have power. Power that is used to prevent misuse and promote social standards, check out Kiva’s new social badges here. Kiva is making a valuable effort to provide social (vs. commercial) money and You can be part of this by becoming a lender here.

Hihi, listen to me, so excited sure with this attitude they just must take me as their fellow! Just wondering why they don’t have partners in my lovely India, mmmmh…?

So long
Gipsy Soul

Micro Credits Part 2

30 Nov

When it comes to this topic, I am still at the beginning of my official research, meanwhile reading these books:

– Poverty Capital – Microfinance and the Making of Development by Ananya Roy
– Microfinance and its discontents – Women in dept in Bangladesh by Lamia Karim
– Freedom from Want – The remarkable success story of BRAC, the global grassroots organization that’s winning the fight against poverty by Ian Smillie
– What’s wrong with Microfinance ? by Thomas Dichter and Malcom Harper

Right now I just wanted to show you something I got from the Kiva Blog. In Georgia a MFI is using a Georgian comic artist to educate people about over-indebtedness.

I really love the idea and it truly seems this MFI’s intention is to really help people and not make their lives worse. And not just with comics of course, a lot of other valuable tools are used like the village council and support with balance sheets and other accounting necessities.

So long

Microcredits part 1

6 Nov

Hello cyberspace

What is happening?

On 10/28/11 the Maya Calendar supposedly ended because the 21-12-2012 date was supposedly miscalculated. I celebrated this with a great communal trance dance and a healing prayer for the earth, but could not feel a specific shift in consciousness. Which is enforcing my believe that change is happening gradually (evolution) not instantly (revolution) but we’ll see!

On 10/26/11 my nephew, Noah, was born. This is the next generation, this is what I’ve been dancing for. This is where our hope lies in salvation and destruction.  He is in good hands, in a loving family so I extend my prayers once more to the healing of our Earth Mother so he will be able to experience the elements in their pure form, and become a caretaker as we are evolving to be.

The world has now 7 billions people. Humans have killed the Earth and She is still feeding us! How do we deserve this? It’s a big questions – I think by trying to be the best people we can, raising consciousness with every step we take forward or back.

With these stories I am illustrating part of my life and part of our life now on this planet. Now I would like to focus a bit on a topic that’s been occupying much of my thoughts these days.

As I am making plans for my new life, where of course the first plan is not to have a plan, many thoughts cross my mind. Next year I will quit my job, give up my apartment and most of my belongings. I want to be free. Free of possessions, free of a full calendar, free of to do lists, paying bills and especially the constant stress I am experiencing. I desire to create a space where I can manifest the deepest desire of what to do with my life, because now I have been unhappy with what I am doing for too long. Changing my life it is not an option anymore it’s a necessity.

I am going to have a plan-less time, but I am just not a planless person. I have soooo many ideas on what to do – in my new life. And I am soooo bored and pissed at my job, it is actually all I can do to bring me through my days more often than not, is making plans. So my latest obsession for a possible fulfilling future job is microfinances. It combines social and aid work with my experiences in finances, project management and web tool development (I am working now as a project manager and software designer for a big corporate bank).  I’ve been aware of this organization for a few months now when I’ve been researching charities to donate in connection to the Movement Medicine Summer Long Dance

Kiva is web 2.0 for microfinance. Microfinancing or micro credits have been around and helping in the 3rd world since four decades. Kiva now is bringing private lenders big scale into the game by providing a web platform where everyone can go and actually select a specific person or business to borrow their money to. I am quite enthusiastic about this. For example I have seen time and again that funds/help given freely is not appreciated or wasted. And unfortunately I am very critical about aid funds, like for the current crisis at the cape of Africa where millions of aid funds disappear into corrupt governments and violent guerrilla rather than feeding the poor starving kids. So the idea of going to and giving directly to the person in need appeals greatly to me, also and actually because the person does have to work in order to be able to pay the money back.

So I’m doing research now into this, because in the end I’ve decided that when I commit to something now at this stage in my life it must be the real thing for me. Something that builds up on what I already know and can do and something that will give me a future work that satisfies me personally, ethically and on a soul as well as financial level! Obviously I will need to make a living again at some point in time and preferably this time around it will be something „good“. I feel like I have wasted my energy for too long in an industry that is ethically incorrect. Back to my research: I’ve quickly realized that about Kiva there are a lot of controversies. Especially about the perceived direct contact between the lender and the borrower not being real. But in my opinion it is still real even though my money doesn’t go directly to, for example Maria in Guatemala but somebody else’s will and money in the end is all the same. Besides a money transfer is so expensive that it makes absolutely no sense to submit amounts of $25 to the Guatemala country side, but rather work with bulk amounts from Kiva in San Francisco to the local MFI (Micro Finance Institution). So I am still very happy about the Kiva concept and I am strongly considering applying as a Kiva Fellow once I get bored hanging around at the beach 😉

Now I am at phase 2 of the research, have ordered a couple of books and am taking a distance learning curse by the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Because my prime concern with the microcredits is the charging of interest in general and the interest rates charged specifically. I have long believed that charging interest is not just. There are a lot of favorable arguments why interest is necessary for a healthy economy. But we have all but a healthy economy today and I see how often it is misused and in the end somebody suffers and the bank only wins. The consumer credit crisis in 2007 has just emphasized this believe, as it has become clear that people in the 1st world tend to spend over their earning and living on credit because the advertisements of consumer goods draw them into the false believes they have to own stuff they don’t really need and even worse they define their personal value based on what the possess. In any case, the temptation is big and with this greed we bring over us a great disaster because at one point people are not able to pay back their credits nor their interest paydowns.

So I am asking myself truly, is microfinancing really ethically correct? Or is it actually making money on the poor? Or even worse, is it maybe indeed harmful and landing the already vulnerable poor in debt?

“After all, what could be more moral than NGOs that help the poor, particularly poor women, in a predominantly Muslim society to become disciplined, capitalist subjects working in the aid of a neoliberal global order (Microfinance and Its Discontents: …. by Lamia Karim)

So I am in a clinch. It might seem like I would want to become from a banker to the rich a banker to the poor . I even might be covered up as a voluntary aid worker, but in the end still work for some banksters. And what do banksters do? They steal, ehm sorry earn commissions, from their clients. So in a way it seems rather achievable to get a little bit of this unevenly distributed wealth by taking it from the rich, as I am doing now while I am sitting with my fat ass in front of a company owned wide-screen high-tech computer system writing my blog, earning good money, and feeling like Robin Hood because I have taken from the rich and given to the poor by donating to commercial aid organizations like Greenpeace, WWF, Amnesty International and Survival International.

Or I am out there in the field, working my fat ass off, and actually, hopefully, supposedly really helping one person, or even a whole family by giving them access to credit? Credit that makes some fat ass manager sitting comfortably in his air-conditioned office rich and maybe even happy – while I feel worse because I work (for free!) for an organization that actually earns from the poor!!

I am not that far in my research that I would imply this to Kiva. But when I read about the corporate like NGOs or the NGO owned Banks in 3rd world countries (like the BRAC Bank in Bangladesh) I come to doubt that Kiva as an organization that links all these (greedy!?) MFIs  is only interested in social justice, rather than its self-profit.

Yesterday I told my sister about my plans (not yet my doubts). And I said “because MFIs are not banks they have the freedom to take into accounts people’s personal stories and possible disasters and they are willingly to change payback plans based on people’s business success and are thus more humanitarian than banks” Hahaha – who am I kidding here? Yes I am a fucking romantic at least when it comes to my ideas about saving the world. I am an optimist, I want it to be the good way. But I am afraid it is not. Of course it is okay if the MFI charges interest, because first it has to pay employees who are entitled to a salary, then facilities etc. as well as calculating in foul credits, but it is not okay for them to make extra earnings. One of Kiva’s goals that I would certainly support is creating global standards for the MFIs how to conduct their business and because they have to power of providing money the have the power of enforcing rules!

Yes, I still want to work for Kiva, and until I have finished my research into microcredits I still think it makes more sense to enable people to take care of themselves rather than being dependant on foreign aid or worse just living in poverty (created by global corporations…). Maybe there is another way? I hope so! It’s certainly about creating social and economic awareness in a local context. About education, that has a real impact. Maybe there are some organizations in this field that work just for their own good but I do believe there are others who truly have the human community and progress in mind. And there is where I want to bring in my expertise by finding desirable business models, create local jobs and aid in sustainable living as well as fighting against corruption and exploitation.

So be it,

talk to you next time