A few weeks ago, I did a donation to ASPCA and talked about it here. One of the other suggestions that I received during that time was to do a micro-loan via kiva.org. I first learned about micro-loans several years ago while sitting in a little Korean restaurant near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. I was talking to a couple people who worked for a small non-profit that both evangelised micro-loans as well as managed some loans of their own but it wasn't until just I heard about Kiva that I realised how easy it could be.
Earlier this week I signed up at kiva.org and browsed through dozens of different loan opportunities on their web site. After a bit of looking, I found one that spoke to my love of Indian food while also helping out women in a very poor area of eastern India called Khurda, Odisha. Dutti, the recipient of the loan only has $25 more to go until she reaches her goal and gets the equipment she needs to expand her business. (Funny enough, I thought my donation was enough to finish it up, but apparently I mis-read the site).
I'm excited to see what happens with the loan and Dutti. Her success is now interwoven with my obsessive compulsive desire to watch her succeed. I look forward to seeing the loan amount fulfilled and dispersed as well as tracking her success over the course of the loan (21 months). I'm not exactly sure, but it looks like I can track as she pays back the loan each month. So exciting!!
I was having a bit of trouble coming up with something to do this week, on Wednesday, it turns out I did something nice worth talking about. There's been a lot of stress at work these past two weeks. There are rumours of cuts and people are anxious. There was one particular co-worker whom I had previously worked on various projects together but we haven't worked on anything lately. Since we had limited interaction, I was curious how he was doing during these stressful times.
I figure what better way to make someone talk to you than to buy them lunch and make them sit next to you for 45 minutes. :) So that's what we did. We went to lunch together and caught up. We talked about work and travel and family and the nuances of living abroad. There was nothing groundbreaking, but I think that was the point - we got to catch up on small personal items that we used to talk about when we worked on the same projects.
I don't feel the need to be friends with everyone at work, but a friendly reminder that I work with humans, not robots makes going to work that much nicer.
This week's post is the first post based on an unplanned kindness, but I dare say not unexpected. While at the Amsterdam airport on a trip back to the United States, I was approached by a man and his wife from South Africa whose delayed flight caused them to miss their scheduled shuttle to their hotel for the next leg of their vacation. They needed a phone so they could call the travel agency and get reconnected on their journey. They asked me for help with the public pay-phone, but it seemed much simpler (for both of us). I noted the number from his printed sheet, started the call and handed him my phone. Roughly two and half minutes later, he hands me the phone back, and I point out the "Meeting Point" to them. They seem grateful and I trust the rest of their vacation stayed on schedule.
This all seems pretty routine, but the airport was packed, so why did they come to me? I have a theory. :) I think I was very approachable that day. I was plenty early and moving at steady methodical pace, two big bags in tow, and carefully watching others. I had also showered that day, was generally happy, smiling and present. I was having a good day and aligned with my surroundings. Don't get me wrong - this isn't every day for me, but I strive for it every day and on this day, I was able to make someone's else day a bit better.
Paul in Amsterdam.