Party for the Cause: Wokai

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of being a volunteer with an awesome and highly promising organization called Wokai. Wokai is a new person-to-person microlending website connecting lenders around the world with borrowers in rural China (mostly women) who want to start small businesses. These borrowers typically have no other way to get loans unless they go to loan sharks who may charge them outrageous interest rates, which helps keep them in poverty permanently. At www.wokai.org you can lend a small but meaningful amount of money (even $10) to a specific borrower and then watch that money be repaid to you over a set amount of time. When they repay it, you can lend it again.

Although it is in its initial phase, Wokai brings so much to the table as an organization: a clear strategy, the transparency of knowing exactly where your money is going when you lend (very unusual for an org operating in China), a sustainable business model that will mean they won’t have to rely on donor money for operating expenses within a few years, highly dedicated and energetic people running it and volunteering…and last night was the big party to celebrate the official launch of the website. It was a great time and a really successful event.

To learn more about Wokai or to give a loan, go to www.wokai.org. You can also read Wokai’s blog at wokai.typepad.com.

This blog post is part of Zemanta’s “Blogging For a Cause” campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Fun Times in Cleveland Today!

I just thought I would draw your attention to the piece of video genius below. Before picking up and transferring to college in Northern California (a place that, according to RP, is “The best that God could do”), I went to college in Ohio. Cleveland was the nearest big city.

My cute liberal arts school notwithstanding, this was a mere 45 minutes away:

I want to take issue with the whole “poor people and buses” reference in this video,  but I was kind of too busy laughing about how true the rest of it was. It was a depressing couple of years.

(Thanks for the reminder, big sister!)

Bay Ridge by Night

I just came back from a nighttime jog around my neighborhood – yes, it is Saturday night, but I went out drinking and to a concert last night, so THERE. Walking outside at night, preferably in near-total darkness, has a healing effect on me.

Today has been a day of quiet – I slept in this morning and woke up to soft rain, the whole world looking leafy and green (the spring leaves all having unfurled at once, it seems). Today was a day of relaxation befitting my first day post job-quitting. Yesterday was my last day at work in NYC, and my whole team (in fact everyone I knew at my organization) was very sweet about it; toasting me with champagne, wishing me well, promising me a job upon my return to New York. The president of the organization gave me a little parting gift, courtesy of the director of our Beijing office:

Despite the fact that it looks like a maxipad, it is in fact a hygienic face mask. Thanks, Dr. G – whaaat a comedian…

I thought today might feel like the moment after you hand in your final paper of the semester – relief, left-over energy buzzing around your head – but it doesn’t. Although it wasn’t my dream job, I was a little sad to actually walk out the door of my office for the last time. Now I only have the future to prepare for (a week-long trip to Toronto/Detroit in a couple weeks, maybe a final party in our apartment, then Boston, DC, possibly a few other locations, and then – China!). It’s not sinking in yet – maybe tomorrow.

As usual, my run around outside brought up lots of swirling thoughts, and reminded me that I’ve been wanting to write something about my sisters (of whom I have two, one older (M) and one younger (G)). Not on my previous list of Things We’ll Miss were my parents and my sisters. RP might not say out loud that he will miss his family, but I’ll say it. This year in NYC has been the first that I have lived near my family in seven years, and now I’m off again. Particularly, it is the most I have seen my sisters in as long as I can remember, and I have been reminded this whole year how important they are to me.

I’ll save more on that for a future post, but tonight I miss them already.