Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Many loans to Azerbaijan

So I also loaned money today to Habibullah Azizov. He wants to expand his shoe shop, and as you can see from the shoe piles, it looks like he needs more room. Habibullah is an internally Displaced Person ( IDP ) from the Armenian-occupied territory of Azerbaijan Gubadli. His loan seemed to be around for a while, so I am curious as to how long it will take to get funded.

There are a lot of loans from the Internally Displaced Person ( IDP ) from the Armenian-occupied territory of Azerbaijan Gubadli through the Norwegian Microcredit LLC (Normicro). That is an interesting group; they started after WWII to help displaced Europeans. And now they do great work in many places.

So I looked up Azerbaijan on a map - I'm learning geography through Kiva.

Honduras! I made loans to Honduras

I was so thrilled to see loans from Honduras on Kiva today. I had to jump on them. Honduras has a very special place in my heart. And today I got the chance to lend money to Denia Iydesa Amador Elvir for her home grocery store. She's going to purchase eggs, rice, sugar, coffee, flour, soap, butter, chicken, dairy products ham, corn and beans. I wish I could buy beans from her, its hard to find the yummy Honduran red beans here. (good thing I go down there with many suitcases full of stuff I leave there, so I fill it with coffee and beans when I come home).

I also loaned to Luis Adolfo Perez Alvares. He also has a home grocery store, and wants a loan to open another store that his wife will run.
Both Denia and Luis live in Danli, which is 92 miles east of Teguigalpa (closer to Nicarauga). It probably takes several hours to drive there, as the roads are very hilly. Tegus has more hills than San Francisco!

Its so exciting to loan to Honduras.
I just sent an email to my congressman in the House of Representatives to encourage him to support Representatives Julia Carson (D-IN) and Geoff Davis (R-KY) circulating “Dear Colleague” sign-on letter to the House Transportation and HUD Appropriations Subcommittee. This letter supports the inclusion of $1.8 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in the FY 2008 appropriations bill. This request is $214 million above the President’s and $358 million over the FY 2007 level for McKinney.

I reminded him about the tent cities at our Vetern Administration hospitals and told him my story on how I had my first exposure to a young, homeless vet from the Iraqi war. I had never seen a vet so young, and not so much younger than me. He asked me for a dollar to buy pizza at the PX. I was so shocked at his age I didn't know how to respond. I gave him a five and had to walk away quickly because tears formed in my eyes. An older vet who saw the whole transaction and was walking in my direction said several times that I was 'good'. I didn't believe that. All I could think of was that I was a citizen of a country that was sending young kids to ruin their lives and then letting them rot in the streets. I didn't feel good.

I'll feel much better when we don't have so many vets and children living on the streets.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I got a big Thank You from Alley Cat Allies for my yearly donation.
Alley Cat Allies, is the national nonprofit clearinghouse for information on feral and stray cats. For more than a decade Alley Cat Allies has advocated Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) - the most humane and effective method to reduce feral cat populations.

I've been an alley cat ally for a while, and its great to see how they have grown.
Every cat should be a wanted cat.
So today I finished a grant proposal to the National Institute of Health to try to find genes for post traumatic stress disorder. I am working with an American psychiatrist who has been doing humanitarian aid in Armenia since the 1988 Spitak earthquake. He has helped set up a few clinics, and we are sampling from there. I do the study design and the statistical genetic analyses. PTSD symptoms in our sample appear to be about 50% genetic, and with funding to increase our sample and do a genome scan we can probably find susceptibility genes. This will allow us to develop better drugs that will help treat and prevent PTSD.
Less PTSD would make the world a better place. Wish I didn't have to wait till June to find out if they will fund me.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Founding Sponsor for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

So today I became a founding sponsor for the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project - Build the Dream. The memorial will be on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on the lake just south east of the Lincon Memorial.

Must say there is something special about being a founder sponsor, its like being there right at the beginning. I am a founder of several organizations, including the National Museum of the American Indian, also on the National Mall and part of the Smithsonian.

I loaned to Rita Makumbi today. She wants to purchase an industrial knitting machine. That will significantly increase her production, she's using the hand/machine now. I know how hard those machines are!

Rita is in Uganda, which is a new Kiva country for me. I am going to see how many countries I can lend to. That's my challenge!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I really like that volunteer site. I have gone through all the local events, and there are things I would like to do! I might even go plant trees on St. Patricks Day. Won't that be like old times! (I planted trees one summer in northern Ontario).

I registered as a mentor for I can do some online mentoring and change some lives. They have to check out my background and approve me, which sounds like a great idea to me. Make sure the mentors are who they say they are.

Feeding the hungry at Easter

I am donating money today to the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles to help pay for the big Easter dinner they are preparing. They are expecting more than 2,500 hungry people on Easter Sunday alone.
Homelessness is a big problem in Los Angeles. We have a tent city at the VA where homeless vets live. Almost all our off ramps have people asking for money at them. I don't like to give out cash, so I get a bolt of polar fleece and make blankets to hand out. Even on hot days in California they are appreciated. One person told us how he can now sleep on his friends couch, because we gave him a blanket to sleep on.

Its amazing how one little gift can so change a person's life.

So I was thinking of volunteering at one of the Pasadena's local shelters to help serve Easter dinner, but it seems they don't do it, only Christmas and Thanksgiving. I did however stumble across this fabulous site, which shows you lots of places that need volunteers. I think I'm going to go spend some time there. Looks like a lot more fun than Sunday chores.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kiva loan to Bulgaria

I just made a loan to Esin Juseinova. She is 56 years old and together with her daughter keep an industrial goods store in Bulgaria which is right to the cooperative market of the town. They both keep this store since 1996 and are well famous in their business. They are asking for $1200 to increase their capital.

That's how it works, it takes money to make money.

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that I jumped on her loan so I could add a new country to my Kiva map that I just put up (look left). I am now up to 7% of the world's countries. Freaky.

No More Nuclear Weapons.

Today I signed the Union of Concerned Scientists
We Need Leadership, Not New Nuclear Weapons petition. Its bascially to tell congress that I oppose the Bush administration's plan for a new nuclear weapon--the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW)--and a new weapons manufacturing capability--Complex 2030.

"We cannot wait any longer to reduce the grave risks posed by nuclear weapons. Please give floor speeches and ask questions in hearings to begin a dialogue about U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Please also cast your vote against funding for RRW and the administration's Complex 2030 proposal."

As the 1,527th person to sign this petition, I helped them reach their goal of 5,000 signatures.

Update on Bogo Light

Got my Bogo light. It works just great. I had some issues recharging (see photo), but the novelty quickly wore off and the cats left it alone.

My dad was quite impressed with the new light and the whole idea, and got me to order two for him.

My dad pointed out that you can really see how dark Africa is when you look at the satellite pictures of the world.

Bogo helps light the world.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Today I renewed my yearly membership in the Student Conservation Association. I am not sure how long I've been a member, nor can I remember how I first found it. I think it was over 10 years ago, when I mixed it up with the Society for Creative Anachronism.

This SCA is a nationwide force of high school and college-age volunteers who are committed to protecting and preserving the environment. They are conservation in action. Through internships, conservation jobs and crew experiences, SCA members are rising to meet environmental challenges while gaining real, hands-on field experience. They complete projects in every conservation discipline - from archaeology to zoology - and everything in between.

How could I not support something like this? Free student labour making my environment a better place to be. And making the students better people.

We all win.

I also helped save my friend's farm by lending her money through prosper. Prosper is a people-to-people lending marketplace, and was created to make consumer lending more financially and socially rewarding for everyone.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I made two Kiva loans today.

One was to Esther Estrada in Ecquador to help her buy food staples and buy milk products and meat in her store. Her store is in her mother's house, and she lives across the street. She's 21, and now is a great time to invest in her future.

The other loan I made was to Edith Mwendia in Kenya. She wants $175 to set up a proper fish selling kiosk. I betcha that will really change business from her stool/chair combination!

I also signed a petition to stop FOX from sponsoring the democratic debates. They aren't really an unbiased source.

I'm going to the first Obama meetup for the Pasadena/Altadena group tonight. More than 100 RSVPd. Dare to hope.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Future's for Children

Today I sent email to Tasha, a Navaho student who I mentor through the Future's for Children program. The program helps Navaho, Hopi and Pueblo students finish high school, by matching them up with mentors who provide financial and other support.

I have been mentoring Tasha for a few years now. She is graduating this year, and has already been accepted into all the colleges she has applied for. She's very smart.

I have been very fortunate in being able to be in her life.

Today I asked her about the computer (laptop) we just sent her to help with her school work.

I can't wait to meet her. Perhaps I can fly up for her graduation. I'm going to continue to help her into college, that's an option with Futures and I think she can still use our help.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Obama for President - Can't wait till 08

I went to a rally and saw Barak Obama today. It was a very good day.

He brings a lot of hope. And the world will be a much better place when he is president.

As he said when he announced his presidency:

"The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call.

For that is our unyielding faith - that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Peace in Space

Today, I was the 4, 430 person to sign the petition for peace in space.

We, the Undersigned, endorse the following petition:


Target: H.E. Mr. Jean Ping, President of the U.N. General Assembly, United Nations

If the United Nations General Assembly fails approve a Space Preservation Treaty by October 24, 2005, then the General Assembly shall convene a Space Preservation Treaty Conference to ban all space-based weapons and warfare in space.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Light an African Life

Bought a really cool Solar power flashlight today and a flashlight will be sent to Africa (via the UN).

How is this you ask? I bought a BoGo Light.

Info from their website:

The BoGo Light

The BoGo Light is a scientific, eco-friendly breakthrough that is making an impact worldwide. From Cairo to Cape Town, from the Caribbean to the Amazon, it is improving the lives of individuals, families, and entire villages by replacing costly kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights with an affordable, long lasting, solar flashlight.

BoGo means Buy one, Give one. We want our lights to benefit the less fortunate; therefore, with each light purchased in the developed world, a second identical light will be donated to an organization that will distribute it in the developing world with our direct financial support. Give the Gift of Light, and Help Us Change the World!

Why does light matter?

Two billion people living in the developing world rely on kerosene lanterns, candles, and single-use battery flashlights for light at night. Not only are these options expensive, dangerous, and harmful to the environment, they also negatively impact health, education, and security.

How I changed the World today.

Today I bid on Kiva loans that will help a rice farmer in Ecuador, a tomato seller in Ghana, a grocer in Ecuador, and a seamstress in Afghanistan.

Total loaned to Kiva todate: $700.
I love Kiva