Friday, April 11, 2008

Changing Lives by Teaching Children to Save

I am so impressed by Jeroo Billimoria's work! I heard about her on this podcast; one of her great accomplishments is the organization Aflatoun that successfully teaches children financial skills, especially in poor countries where nobody said it would work. Here are two impressive stories she told at the end of her interview:

"Let me start with a country like Zimbabwe, where everyone said you will never be able to get a single child to save because saving means that it's ... the money you save today is gone tomorrow with 1000% inflation. You know? So we said 'OK' but our pilot, and this came from the children in Zimbabwe, is they would save money and buy a pen. So they bought a lot of pens so that the money got invested in pens and when they wanted it back the pens got sold. Now that is really creative thinking of children, thinking, countering inflation, and still being able to get the money back to be able to pay for their school fees because otherwise they would have dropped out."

"We had a young girl, and we were doing this longitudinal study for 5 years, so she was in the program when we started, which was in 2001, and then we interviewed her in last year September and she said that, 'The best thing that happened to me was Aflatoun because it taught me about saving.' She was the first of 6 siblings, all of whom were girls. So her parents had sent her to school, but she was going to have to drop out because there were so many other children and the whole thing. So she started saving, and then those school fees were free she was able to pay for the little extra stuff from her savings. Today she is in 'standard 12'. All her sisters are saving and all of them have gone to school and she said this would never have happened if I had not managed to have Aflatoun because we would never have saved and that means we would never have had the bandwidth to afford this. So it's not just a child, it's been a whole family that has looked at it."

Thanks, Jeroo!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A blessing for a baby in pain

A good friend and neighbor of mine wrote the following article. I appreciate how he put these words together for us; whenever you can do anything to help relieve a child's suffering, it is a magnificent experience.

Sacred Words, by Edwin F Smith

My daughter Olivia gets seizures. I hope I can comfort her like this someday.