Monday, June 28, 2010

Now Global Educators Have Fabulous New Tools to Use

I have written in early posts about the marvelous Swedish teacher Hans Rosling who is able to make statistics come alive for any audience so that historic trends can be seen and clearly understood by a greater number than ever before.

I have to thank Merry Merryfield for reminding me that the source that makes this possible is available on the net at The non profit website founded in Stockholm by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling on February 25, 2005, uses a special software called Trendanalyzer. The software is able to translate statistical information into animated movies that cannot help revealing trends in new ways that help those (like myself) who have a hard time understanding and appreciating statistical information presented in usual boring formats. You will be seriously blown away by this use of Gapminder to tell the story of how India and China were kept down by the colonial powers and then after the second world war and caught up rather dramatically. The lecture is truly an awesome way for any student to appreciate the global dimensions of the post war world:

If you like this lecture there are plenty of other awesome displays if you check out the TED website and search under Hans Rosling.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to Feel Slightly Less Guilty about Watching This Year's World Cup--Some Global Learning Opportunities

It is hard to avoid the World Cup—now building quite nicely to its inevitable climax. We are now looking at many more days when people in every (at least of the last 16 countries) sit and more often stand around large TV screens and yell like mad. Unlike the Olympics there is no pretense about the World Cup that this is anything but international warfare—a match of nations against one another to see who is really top. Nor is the world cup script subtle--the national anthems of the two teams play at the beginning of the match and the players make efforts to mouth the words as if they are the embodiment of the national spirit and then there are the fans who have made the often thousands of mile journey and sport their teams' national colors as if they were going into battle themselves. Despite this excess of nationalism there are some ways that with each World Cup that goes by we learn some new positive things about other cultures even if trivial such as admiring the way a country plays, the way various supporters dress and the passion they show for the game. This year perhaps because there has been so much coverage, television viewers have been treated to some serious documentaries concerning the role of soccer in various countries’ histories, a focus on South African’s love for soccer throughout the struggle against the Apartheid regime or a focus on some of the leading international players.

Another international focal point this year has been the buzz –the vuvuzela. Anne Applebaum writing for the Washington Post wrote an interesting column the other day when she described the different reactions around the world to this loud and for most people annoying sound.

“..for the Germans, the vuvuzela creates a moral problem. Some angrily demand a ban. Others call the plastic horns "traditional instruments of South African football," and oppose a ban, on the grounds that this would demonstrate unacceptably Eurocentric disdain for other cultures. The center-right Die Welt denounced "the intolerance of those who are annoyed by the vuvuzela" and instructed its readers to accept that "vuvuzelas belong to South African football like battle songs belong to German games." The center-left Die Tageszeitung bluntly told its readers to "turn the sound down" on their televisions if they can't accept this foreign custom. ..In France, by contrast, the vuvuzela presents an aesthetic problem: If you can't ban them, then integrate them into the artistic canon. Le Monde suggests treating this plastic horn as a genuine instrument, even providing its online readers with links to vuvuzela works composed by one Pedro Espi-Sanchis ("Pedro the Musicman"), a musicologist, musician and Spanish teacher resident in Cape Town. The newspaper Liberation last week absorbed the term into its art criticism, too, condemning a particularly noisy set of installations as "vuvuzelas de l'art contemporain" ("vuvuzelas of contemporary art"). For the South Koreans, the vuvuzela presents complex issues of etiquette. One Korean columnist feared an outright ban would be rude to the host country. But perhaps other "traditional" instruments might be substituted? "Sometimes when percussionists in the stadium are flashed up on the television screen, I ardently wish to hear the sound they make," he wrote, and then made an attempt at gentle persuasion: "I sincerely hope our African friends will put down the horns and take up other instruments." If persuasion should fail, however, "one can find solace in the fact that the games will be adjourned in three weeks."

What Applebaum describes here is the way cultures work---they basically thrive and grow as a result of unplanned cultural contact –this dynamic was as true in Elizabethan England as it came into contact with the New world as it was in the US’s melding of African and European cultural traditions. In today’s Internet fueled world the reaction and response to other cultures is much accelerated and when global events such as the World Cup take place we can expect more unpredictable cultural and as Appelbaum smartly notes, economic changes.

“the Chinese have been manufacturing the noise-makers like crazy. A million vuvuzelas have already been shipped from Zhejiang and Guangdong to South Africa, and more are on their way to the rest of the world. The Guangda Toy Factory in Yiwu has already raised its production to 20,000 per day, according to one report, and the owner says she will continue to produce them "as long as there is market demand."

Today everyone is interested in building global brands with products--that have appeal in every market --not just a domestic one. As soccer continues its relentless march to becoming a world sport--(the US one of the last bastions of resistance) it is likely to be the vehicle for more globalizing trends. Something to think about as you watch the remainder of the matches left in this enthralling World Cup tournament.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Approaches to Averting the Drop Out Crisis

Drop out factoriesThe high rate of drop outs from inner city schools is periodically focused on every few years or so when a new report comes out and suggests that fewer students are graduating from such urban schools than previously thought. The most recent report of this kind was Balfanz and Letgers study of 2004 has been the boldest of recent years describing many inner city schools as no less than "drop out factories" --and found that "there are between 900 and 1,000 high schools in the country in which graduating is at best a 50/50 proposition. "

Now there are moves afoot to begin on a larger scale to address the issue. Some of these efforts are documented in a report sponsored by the Annie E Casey Foundation, Multiple Pathways To Graduation: New Routes to High School Completion, written by Shannon Marsh and Paul Hill that was published in May of this year. One of the approaches the report highlight involves high schools in the district working together identify those students at greatest risk of dropping out. Districts then develop new schools or place a variety of special instructional programs within existing schools. Districts continuously assess these schools and programs for their match to current students’ needs and their effectiveness in helping students."

Cincinatti Public Schools is one of the innovative school districts that is seriously looking at reports like the Multiple Pathways to Graduation as they consider options broadly termed a " portfolio strategy," whereby a school district "opens itself up to an assortment, or portfolio, of non-traditional schools - such as the boarding school or the holistic school - to provide more options to students."

We seem to be acknowledging for the first time in public education that one size does not fit all and that we need to make alternatives available for those the system has had the most difficult time serving. The question is how? How might we use new technologies that allow students to converse with mentors, teachers and form learning communities? How might we use new assessment techniques that would provide real time feedback for students so they can monitor their own learning? How can we ensure that student motivation and interest connects with rigorous and changelleng assignments? These are large and complex questions but it is important that they are being asked now at a time when we need answers more than ever to the question of how we are going to educate our young people to much higher skill levels in an economy that is tolerating in some areas --10 to 20 percent unemployment?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Use of Social Media in Education More Widespread Than Previously Thought

What is interesting in this recent Education Week article, Social Networking Goes to School by Michelle R Davis, are the varied --and non obvious uses of social media for teaching. Principal Eric C. Sheninger, the princial of New Milford High School New Jersey may represent the change that has occured over the past year or so in educator attitudes to social media. He is quoted as stating to Education Week--"I used to be the administrator that blocked every social-media site, and now I’m the biggest champion,” Now the "school’s official Facebook page keeps its 1,100 fans updated on sports events and academic achievements. Students who traveled to Europe this spring for a tour of Holocaust sites blogged daily about their experiences, and received comments from all over the world. Other students have used the video voice service Skype to talk to their peers in states like Iowa for school projects."

These factoids included in the article help explain the trend:

o A study by the Washington-based Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released early this year found that 73 percent of Americans ages 12 to 17 now use social-networking websites, up from 55 percent in 2006.

o Individual teachers having the initiative and skills now to host their own projects as for example a Welsh teachers decision in 2008, Charline Evans --a Welsh teacher "to visit and connect 80 schools around the world."Her route took her across the 7 continents and through over 30 countries to visit a further 78 schools before returning to Wales for the 80th school, Maes-yr-Haul Primary in Bridgend, South Wales.Each school produced a film representing their country and culture."

o Advances in cell phone networking technology so that "Project K-Nect, a grant-funded program that uses smartphones as teaching tools in a handful of North Carolina school districts, allows students to instant-message their peers and teachers with questions on math homework at any time of the day or night. Students can also post questions and answers to school math blogs, where a student struggling with algebra could find several classmates willing to walk him or her through a problem or even post video of the best way to solve it."

o Twitter's ease of use has enabled the easy formation of mini international professional development communities For example "One of the most popular types of educator events on Twitter are “EdChats”—one-hour conversations that take place every Tuesday around a particular topic. The chats are the brainchild of several educators, including Thomas Whitby, a co-creator of a 3,700-member Ning site called The Educator’s PLN, for “professional-learning network.”

Principal Eric Sheninger, takes Twitter one step futher than most--he was able to connect with "a company that donated technology equipment and training to the school, and he linked up with CBS News, which brought national exposure to the high school’s programs."

Something interesting is happening in schools these days and it would pay us to look closer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seven Teachable Moments from the BP oil spill fiasco

First teachable moment --Ask your students why is it that we need to go to Rolling Stone magazine to gather some of the key truths about the BP oil spill debacle? Yes The New York Times and Washington Post did some nice reporting but the key points were often buried deep inside the jump pages. Out of all the quality newspapers perhaps the British Independent did the best news analysis. But leave it to the Rolling Stone magazine (as the excellent Matt Tabibi did with their excellent reporting on the Wall Street meltdown) to put the story together for the reasonably intelligent reader in a way that made sense. There was an avoidance of technicalities and overly complex sentences. Tim Dickinson in The Spill, The Scandal and the President: The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years – and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder, is must reading for anyone interested in placing the story in the relevant historical and political context.

So part of that first question is to ask to what extent does corporate ownership of the press (and which newspaper barons have investments in BP) have a role to play--how else do we explain the relentless focus on BP's role in all this and not that of the US government in enabling this awful situation?

Second teachable moment
--Have your students look at all the degrees of culpability involved in this tragedy not just BPs. As they do this let them examine the governments' role as they answer why the proper regulatory function of government is so critical. Dickinson makes a powerful case that the US government failure to properly oversee the management of oil rigs lies at the center of this tragedy.

"During the Bush years, the Minerals Management Service, the agency in the Interior Department charged with safeguarding the environment from the ravages of drilling, descended into rank criminality. According to reports by Interior's inspector general, MMS staffers were both literally and figuratively in bed with the oil industry. When agency staffers weren't joining industry employees for coke parties or trips to corporate ski chalets, they were having sex with oil-company officials. But it was American taxpayers and the environment that were getting screwed. MMS managers were awarded cash bonuses for pushing through risky offshore leases, auditors were ordered not to investigate shady deals, and safety staffers routinely accepted gifts from the industry, allegedly even allowing oil companies to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil before tracing over them in pen."

The mess was never cleaned up and all that the Obama administration did despite repeated warnings that this was a rogue agency was to appoint an oil industry friend in the person of Ken Salazar to make one or two symbolic but futile gestures in the direction of cleaning up the agency. Dickinson fully backs up his assertion that

"Salazar .. worked hard to foster the impression that the "prior administration" is to blame for the catastrophe. In reality, though, the Obama administration was fully aware from the outset of the need to correct the lapses at MMS that led directly to the disaster in the Gulf. In fact, Obama specifically nominated Salazar – his "great" and "dear" friend – to force the department to "clean up its act." For too long, Obama declared, Interior has been "seen as an appendage of commercial interests" rather than serving the people. "That's going to change under Ken Salazar."

Third teachable moment --why was it that every single red light that could have notified us that something was not right with the process was ignored. Case in point. BP was allowed to make up nonsense to justify its drilling licenses and that nonsense even when it was clearly full of first grade mistakes remained unchallenged by everyone up and down the bureaucratic chain.

BP claims that a spill is "unlikely" and states that it anticipates "no adverse impacts" to endangered wildlife or fisheries. Should a spill occur, it says, "no significant adverse impacts are expected" for the region's beaches, wetlands and coastal nesting birds. The company, noting that such elements are "not required" as part of the application, contains no scenario for a potential blowout, and no site-specific plan to respond to a spill. Instead, it cites an Oil Spill Response Plan that it had prepared for the entire Gulf region. Among the sensitive species BP anticipates protecting in the semi-tropical Gulf? "Walruses" and other cold-water mammals, including sea otters and sea lions. The mistake appears to be the result of a sloppy cut-and-paste job from BP's drilling plans for the Arctic. Even worse: Among the "primary equipment providers" for "rapid deployment of spill response resources," BP inexplicably provides the Web address of a Japanese home-shopping network. Such glaring errors expose the 582-page response "plan" as nothing more than a paperwork exercise. "It was clear that nobody read it," says Ruch, who represents government scientists. Rick Steiner a retired marine science professor comments that "This response plan is not worth the paper it is written on," "Incredibly, this voluminous document never once discusses how to stop a deepwater blowout."

Fourth Teachable Moment--why is it that only one person so far has resigned over this Why are not more people including large numbers of high level bureaucrats who aided and abetted patently false statements allowed to continue in their jobs. Why are there no calls for Interior Secretary Salazar to resign? How does the President remain serious about the need for accountability in government as well as corporate board rooms when he allows such a reckless individual continue to head the Department of Interior he once pledged to clean up? Dickinson writes

"Had MMS been following the law, it would never have granted BP a categorical exclusion – which are applicable only to activities that have "no significant effect on the human environment." At a recent hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse grilled Salazar about Interior's own handbook on categorical exclusions, which bars their issuance for offshore projects in "relatively untested deep water" or "utilizing new or unusual technology" – standards that Whitehouse called "plainly pertinent" for BP's rig. "It's hard for me to see that that's a determination that could have been made in good faith," Whitehouse said, noting that the monstrously complex task of drilling for oil a mile beneath the surface of the ocean appeared to have been given less oversight than is required of average Americans rewiring their homes. "Who was watching?"Not the Interior secretary. Salazar did not even ensure that MMS had a written manual – required under Interior's own rules – for complying with environmental laws. According to an investigation in March by the Government Accountability Office, MMS managers relied instead on informal "institutional knowledge" – passed down from the Bush administration. The sole written guidance appeared on a website that only provided, according to the report, "one paragraph about assessing environmental impacts of oil and gas activities, not detailed instructions that could lead an analyst through the process of drafting an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement."
This is unforgivable and Salazar should accept responsibility and the entire chain of command that allowed this keystone cop type of performance.

Fifth Teachable Moment

When should a company that so openly and plainly flaunts the rules be banned from operating? Why is it that their proposals are not treated with more than just an extra grain of scrutiny --the kind you might apply to a car loan or mortgage application? BP alone had 760 safety violations against the next worst oil company that had one. BPs' repeated low regard for safety issues it should be banned from doing business--particularly as risky a business as oil exploration.

"In March 2006, BP was responsible for an Alaska pipeline rupture that spilled more than 250,000 gallons of crude into Prudhoe Bay – at the time, a spill second in size only to the Valdez disaster. Investigators found that BP had repeatedly ignored internal warnings about corrosion brought about by "draconian" cost cutting. The company got off cheap in the spill: While the EPA recommended slapping the firm with as much as $672 million in fines, the Bush administration allowed it to settle for just $20 million.

BP has also cut corners at the expense of its own workers. In 2005, 15 workers were killed and 170 injured after a tower filled with gasoline exploded at a BP refinery in Texas. Investigators found that the company had flouted its own safety procedures and illegally shut off a warning system before the blast. An internal cost-benefit analysis conducted by BP – explicitly based on the children's tale The Three Little Pigs – revealed that the oil giant had considered making buildings at the refinery blast-resistant to protect its workers (the pigs) from an explosion (the wolf). BP knew lives were on the line: "If the wolf blows down the house, the piggy is gobbled." But the company determined it would be cheaper to simply pay off the families of dead pigs."

Sixth Teachable Moment

What will it take for President Obama to be more open about his administrations' somewhat cynical energy policy--and square the his campaign statements where he was opposed to more off shore drilling with his granting licenses for offshore drilling more freely than applications for daycare centers. Could it be that by hiding behind Salazar's pro oil industry he could finesse the situation in a way Dick Morris might have been proud of? Dickinson writes, "On the campaign trail, Obama had stressed that offshore drilling "will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence." But once in office, he bowed to the politics of "drill, baby, drill." Hoping to use oil as a bargaining chip to win votes for climate legislation in Congress, Obama unveiled an aggressive push for new offshore drilling in the Arctic, the Southeastern seaboard and new waters in the Gulf, closer to Florida than ever before. In doing so, he ignored his administration's top experts on ocean science, who warned that the offshore plan dramatically understated the risks of an oil spill and petitioned Salazar to exempt the Arctic from drilling until more scientific studies could be conducted."

"The administration, however, has made clear that it has no intention of reversing its plan to expand offshore drilling. Four weeks into the BP disaster, when Salazar was questioned in a Senate hearing about the future of the president's plan, he was happy to stand up for the industry's desire to drill at any cost. "Isn't it true," asked Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, "that as terrible as the tragedy is, that unless we want $14, $16, $18, $20-a-gallon gasoline, that it's not realistic to think that we would actually stop drilling for oil in the Gulf?" Unbowed by the catastrophe that was still unfolding on his watch, Salazar heartily agreed, testifying that the president had directed him to "move forward" on offshore drilling."

Seventh Teachable Moment

The facts seem to support that the administration made a calculation that things would be easier if it could pretend it was not involved and all the blame and clean up responsibilities could be saddled on BP's shoulders. But that story could not be sold even on a slow news day. The government was in no way just an innocent passive observer. Not only were they involved in enabling the mess that was forseeable, they were the only credible authority that could marshall the resources--the ships that could vacuum up the oil, berms and other material that could help save the coast.

"The effect of leaving BP in charge of capping the well, says a scientist involved in the government side of the effort, has been "like a drunk driver getting into a car wreck and then helping the police with the accident investigation." Indeed, the administration has seemed oddly untroubled about leaving the Gulf's fate in the hands of a repeat criminal offender, and uncurious about the crimes that may have been committed leading up to the initial sinking of the rig. The Obama Justice Department took more than 40 days after the initial blast killed 11 workers to announce it was opening a criminal probe..rom the start, the administration has seemed intent on allowing BP to operate in near-total secrecy. Much of what the public knows about the crisis it owes to Rep. Ed Markey, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. Under pressure from Markey, BP was forced to release footage of the gusher, admit that its early estimates put the leak as high as 14,000 barrels a day and post a live feed of its undersea operations on the Internet – video that administration officials had possessed from the earliest days of the disaster. "We cannot trust BP," Markey said. "It's clear they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill."

Will any of these teachable moments make their way ever so slightly into our media conversation or into our classrooms? That is an open question but it is at the same time worth pondering your own role in helping to encourage such a debate.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yet More Reasons to Become Globally Aware--Oil Spills in Developing Countries Dwarf the Problem in the Gulf

Everyone's attention is drawn these days to the Gulf spill. What an awful economic and ecoological disaster and we cannot forget the loss of life that precipitated the disaster. But did you know that there is a spill out in Nigeria that is vastly more expansive and damaging than the one in the Gulf. The pipeline ruptured in 2008 in Lagos killing a 100 people and is causing untold damage with no end in sight It is hard to find any reporting on it that will appear on US mainstream news. The information below is taken from a report by John Vidal Environmental Editor for London's Observer Newspaper. The report was filed May 30, 2010 so far to zero commentary in the US as far as I have been able to determine.

This is only "one of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months. As a result "Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. "We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots," said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. "This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months...In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP's Deepwater Horizon rig last month."

The sense of outrage is widespread. "There are more than 300 spills, major and minor, a year," said Bassey. "It happens all the year round. The whole environment is devastated. The latest revelations highlight the massive difference in the response to oil spills. In Nigeria, both companies and government have come to treat an extraordinary level of oil spills as the norm."

A spokesman for the Stakeholder Democracy Network in Lagos, which works to empower those in communities affected by the oil companies' activities, said: "The response to the spill in the United States should serve as a stiff reminder as to how far spill management in Nigeria has drifted from standards across the world."

Other voices of protest point out that the world has overlooked the scale of the environmental impact. Activist Ben Amunwa, of the London-based oil watch group Platform, said: "Deepwater Horizon may have exceed Exxon Valdez, but within a few years in Nigeria offshore spills from four locations dwarfed the scale of the Exxon Valdez disaster many times over. Estimates put spill volumes in the Niger delta among the worst on the planet, but they do not include the crude oil from waste water and gas flares. Companies such as Shell continue to avoid independent monitoring and keep key data secret."

Worse may be to come. One industry insider, who asked not to be named, said: "Major spills are likely to increase in the coming years as the industry strives to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond."

Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: "Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Website Revinvents Charitable Giving

If you have not checked out you should. It will change the way you look at giving. It is based on one of the true pioneers in the realm of how to help alleviate poverty on a global scale-- the Nobel prize winning Bangladeshi economist Mohammed Yunis. Yunis' book Creating a World Without Poverty describes his journey as a young man growing up on one of the poorest countries in the world--Bangla Desh. He started the micro lending movement when he realized one of the key reasons why people are poor and stay poor is that they have no access to capital. and made a $27 loan to women in Chittagong, Bangladesh Since then the movement has grown exponentially and now provides millions of small loans to poor people. Yunis’s argument is a powerful one –that when the dollar is used in business it is basically cycled once---a transaction between a consumer and the business owner or merchant—but with social businesses the funds get recycled multiple times –as capital for a new business it can help pay for raw materials and employees.

Now with the web the process of micro lending has taken off—in 2008, Bala Vishwanath, an alum of top Indian tech and management schools left his his job and started, providing loan guarantees that enable poor entrepreneurs to borrow from Microfinance Institutions to build their enterprises in developing countries.

Kiva ( is a website that uses Yunis’ principles to rethink the way we give to charity. In most charity situations we are just giving money for a cause we believe in and we lose any contact with how the money is being spent and whether it does any good. Kiva wants to turn charity donors into partners.

The following statistics taken from their website indicate their impressive

Total value of all loans made through Kiva: $140,222,635
Number of Kiva Users: 719,433
Number of Kiva Users who have funded a loan: 457,927
Number of countries represented by Kiva Lenders: 197
Current repayment rate (all partners): 98.16%
Average loan size (This is the average amount loaned to an individual Kiva Entrepreneur. Some loans - group loans - are divided between a group of borrowers.): $390.89
Average total amount loaned per Kiva Lender (includes reloaned funds): $195.18
Average number of loans per Kiva Lender: 5.70

Kiva partners Kiva Partners with a Microfinance Institution

Kiva partners with "existing microfinance institutions around the world (we call them Field Partners). These organizations that have expertise in microfinance and a mission to alleviate poverty facilitate Kiva loans on the ground."

You can join lending teams and aggregate your individual amount with that of team and you can decide to give to a huge variety of highly worthy entrepreneurs whose profiles are listed.

For example a group of women silk weavers in Cambodia need $2,500 to buy silk
and they still need $950 --you can make a $25 donation. Their picture is featured at the top of this blog.

"Thirteen people who live in Ampil Lech village in Takeo province make up a village bank loan group. Mrs. Eng Ly Nget is the village bank president, selected by all the members. They will use the loan for different purposes so that it can improve their businesses in the future.

Mrs. Eng Ly Nget is a weaver and her husband, Mr. Roeurn Yen, is a farmer who owns a plot of land to cultivate rice on to sell to support his family. Since her business is going well, she wants to expand. Thus to improve her family's living conditions, Mrs. Eng Ly Nget is seeking a loan to buy silk. She is the mother of three children, one of whom is a weaver, while another one is enrolled in local public school, and the youngest one is only three years old."

This is very personal giving and it is a loan--you get repaid for your donation!
"The Field Partner collects repayments from Kiva entrepreneurs as well as any interest due and lets Kiva know if a repayment was not made as scheduled. Interest rates are set by the Field Partner, and that interest is used to cover the Field Partner's operating costs. Kiva doesn't charge interest to its Field Partners and does not provide interest to lenders. Kiva also gives Field Partners the option to cover currency losses."