Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day and a $25.00 Challenge to Dads

Today is Fathers Day. I’ve been pretty lucky in the “Father” Category. My own dad, Gary White, is still around – a number of my friends can’t say the same thing. As far as fathers go, I think he ranks right up there. Didn’t drink, didn’t swear, didn’t use violence or intimidation to run the household. We all grew up knowing right from wrong and knew we were safe at home. Thanks Dad - you're still a source of sound advise and wisdom, and much of what I know about being a father came from you.

Me, well, I never thought I’d be a dad, although it was always something I truly wanted. Thanks to Gail, I have two fantastic little boys. Loudon (who turns 5 later this month) and Brennus (who is a raging 2 and a half). Fatherhood is both glorious and terrifying. I understand now that expression “I never knew what fear was until I had kids”. At the same time, the kids bring absolute joy (well, mostly – Brennus just got sent to time out for defiantly marking on our new chairs).

For this Fathers Day I got a new Batter Bowl (made by the wonderful Ellen Burge - if you follow the link you can see my bowl, it's the one with the spout), a new whisk, two beautiful hand-made cards – the first containing an orange hand-print that Loudon made a school, the second made by the boys and “Taunte” our nanny extraordinaire – and a touching card from Gail. I also got a great “me-sized” dad-apron and mitt for BBQing.

As I sat down thinking about my great day (sipping on some nice fresh-ground coffee from Burundi care of the Farmers Market) I starting thinking about the other Dads I know and wondering how their mornings were going. There’s John, Michael, Stephen, Peter, Bill, Matt, my brothers Kevin and Brad and many more, all of us with small or smallish kids. Just as I did, an email popped up from KIVA. It was notifying me that a payment had been made by one of the people I’ve been a microloan lender to. In this case, it was “Identity Protected” who is trying to run an electronics shop in Kirkut. You can see his profile here.

“Hmmmm” I thought. KIVA. KIVA, for those of you who don’t know it, is a microloan coordinating organization. You create a profile, and make loans into third-world business, typically at around $25.00. KIVA takes your $25, and the $25’s from other lenders, and makes the loan through a development agency on the ground. I’ve made it my policy to make my loans to dads – dads who seem, to me, to be doing there best to support their families in far worse situations than mine. And so, in honour of this Fathers Day, I picked out a dad, Siyavush Shukurov, who, according to KIVA:

“…is a 38-year-old father of three living in the Imishli region of Azerbaijan. For nearly two decades, he has earned a living by breeding cattle for beef. Meat is a staple in the Azerbaijani diet, so Siyavush has many regular clients.

He has earned a good profit, but prices for supplies have increased dramatically recently. To expand his business and support his family, Siyavush has applied for a loan of $1,000 to purchase a dairy cow and two calves. He is confident that he will be able to repay the loan.”

Then I thought, I wonder if I could get some of the other dads I know to dish out $25.00 today and make their own loan. Perhaps, too, there’s the odd mom who’s still looking for a gift for their fellow. So, Dads, please consider pulling out your wallet and going here:

You can sort be any number of criteria to find a person who needs your help. It’ll feel almost as good as a hug from your kid to allow another dad to keep feeling hugs from their kids.

If you're curious, here's my "Lender Page":

And Siyavush, as I right this, still needs $550.00 for his loan to go through.