Morals & Microfinance

17 August 2010 at 02:21 4 comments

By Yelena Shuster, KF 11, Azerbaijan

For some, traveling abroad is an exotic means of recreation, for others it is a learning experience. I cannot find statistics reciting the numbers and nationalities of people who go abroad each year, but from my experience as a backpacker and Kiva fellow, most people who travel (either for leisure, student exchange or professional duties) come from one of the 32 developed countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, NZ, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, US (see the World Factbook for more information). This means that essentially, over 80% of the world’s population, over 5 billion people, have never visited another country!

It is only recently that the reality of how lucky I am has crept through. I hail from a country where incomes are high compared to the cost of necessities and where opportunities to earn are abundant (yes, even in this downward economy). I am not constrained by family obligations or fiscal responsibilities for anyone but myself, and whereas my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are compelled by necessity to sacrifice for the sake of family, I carry the burden of individuality. How privileged I am!

But with privilege, there is responsibility. According to Peter Singer, the Utilitarian philosopher from Princeton University, we have an ethical duty to help others who’re less fortunate. His argument is this:

– Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad.

– If it is in your power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything nearly as important, it is wrong not to do so.

– By donating to aid agencies, you can prevent suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care, without sacrificing anything nearly as important.

– Therefore, if you do not donate to aid agencies, you are doing something wrong.

Whether or not you concede his argument you are probably at least curious about how people in other regions of the world live since you’re reading the Kiva Fellows blog. If you’re an active Kiva lender I offer you my deepest appreciation! Each loan you’ve made will influence more people than you think: the borrower, their family, their community and the infinite number of individuals that these people will influence in the future.

Consider this quote by Mother Theresa: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Thanks for letting me share my experiences as a Kiva fellow with you these past 3 months. If you enjoy reading this blog, perhaps it’s time you became a Kiva fellow?

I leave you with a video of the son of a Kiva borrower playing the saz, a pluck stringed instrument from central Asia and singing a folk song about love and beauty in the town of Shusha (now occupied by Armenia). You may have noticed that many Azerbaijani borrower profiles mention music lessons for their children, now you know why 😉  You can see the Azeri & Russian lyrics here.

Yelena Shuster has completed her placement at Komak Credit Union in Azerbaijan. You can join Komak’s lending team here, support Komak borrowers here, and read more about the Fellows program here.

Entry filed under: Azerbaijan, blogsherpa, KF11 (Kiva Fellows 11th Class), Komak Credit Union. Tags: , , , , .

Micro-finance Means Community in East Africa A Celebration for Savers in San Jose


  • 1. Edwin Au-Yeung  |  19 August 2010 at 23:47

    Yelena, what a beautiful post..

  • 2. David Oglaza  |  17 August 2010 at 11:49

    I prefer to lend via KIVA as opposed to charity as you know where the money is going!!!! The more you travel the more you appreciate what you have and more you are prepared to give to others.

  • 3. Lorena  |  17 August 2010 at 09:25

    Thank you for sharing the video!

  • 4. Sam  |  17 August 2010 at 02:52

    Lena great blog, the only thing is that I know many from developing and transitional economies that travel outside their country. They do it for entirely different reasons though. They do it for economic gain. I think this is what makes us so lucky and fortunate. Most of the time when we travel, we do it for enjoyment, but those whom I know do it, many times to the detriment of their health, safety and family well being, do it for the hope that they can gain some form of economic security.
    Tajikistan is maybe a bit of an extreme case, but its held true in other parts of the world I’ve been to as well.

Get Involved!

Learn more about this blog and about Kiva Fellows


Apply to be a Kiva Fellow

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,347 other followers


Drawing from the Field

Kiva Blog Policy

%d bloggers like this: