A Little Can Go A Long Way

Someone once told me about a book showing photographs of people with all their “stuff.”  I wish I had written down the title so I could have purchased a copy.  Since I don’t have the book, I’ll just recount its description from memory.  It goes something like this … 

It shows a photo of an American standing in front of his big, two-story house, two cars in the driveway, a boat, and an RV.  Another photo shows a European in front of an apartment with a small car parked out front.  There’s a photo of a man in the Far East in front of his small house and motor bike.  And there’s a photo of a man in Africa standing in front of his hut, with all his belongings in a small pile beside him. 

I wonder if the African man has the biggest smile. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in our American-centered world, that we forget to realize how blessed we truly are.  Take, for example, the American married couple with two children, living in a single-wide trailer, approximately 1,200 square feet.  They have 300 square feet of living space per person.  That’s close to the amount of living space for the average person living in high-income countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, or Japan.  We hosted some folks from France a few years back, and one of them commented, “In America, everything is big … big houses … big cars … big roads … everything is big!”  I had no idea how “big” our lives were, in comparison with the rest of the world. 

The average family of four in Greece or Spain live in a house or apartment under 950 square feet.  In Egypt, the Philippines, or Colombia, that same family of four would be living in a dwelling under 400 square feet.  An average family of four in India, China, or Pakistan would occupy just under 275 square feet. 

Take the square footage of your home, and divide it by the number of people living in it.  If it’s over 377 square feet per person, you’re richer than most people in the rest of the world, who live in high-income countries.  Compared to folks who live in middle, low, or very low income countries, you’re filthy rich. 

Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it? 

Want to do something about it?  You certainly can.  There are people in other parts of the world scraping by with incomes of a few dollars a day, if that much.  Our American dollars can go a very long way to help them … to buy a better sewing machine which will help them make clothing to sell … to buy cows for their farm … to buy agricultural tools … and the list goes on.  

There are various organizations which facilitate mirco-loans to entrepreneurs around the world.  I like Kiva, and I particularly like to help women entrepreneurs.  A loan of as little as $25 will help transform their lives for the better.  And they always pay back.  

I could easily give a woman $25.00 to build her business, to help support her family.  But to loan her the money, see her succeed and pay back the loan … that shows her integrity.  I can’t find words to describe my admiration for her. 

If you’d like to check it out, you can do a search on micro-loans, or visit a site like http://www.kiva.org/

Be thankful for your riches … and I hope you’ll find ways to spread the wealth.

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5 Responses to “A Little Can Go A Long Way”

  1. Don Jones Says:

    Judy, You are a beautiful person. Great post. We are extremely rich in this country. Check out Kevin Coy’s program in Guatamala to donate pigs to the villagers. Everything little bit counts and can make a huge impact. I’m checking out Kiva right now. Thanks Don

  2. June Haywood Says:

    Wow we have 900 sq feet per person now. Of course when the kids were home it was only 300 per person.

  3. http://slowdancejournal.wordpress.com Says:

    I wish that we would also scale back what we think we “need.” It would be disasterous if all the world lived as we do. The planet would expire, plain and simple. We are nice people, not deliberately doing something destructive, but the ecosystems of earth cannot support a species that consumes as much of everything as we do.

    We need to share with those who have too little and we must live with less ourselves if our grandchildren are to have a liveable world.

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