When I was a child, I had a toy record player. It came with small, sturdy records that had tiny dots in their grooves. After winding it up and placing a record on the turntable, the needle would bump over the plastic dots and a simple melody of Camptown Races or The Farmer in the Dell would fill the air.
My children have gotten a lion’s share of toys and gifts in the past few years. One of my favorites was received when my daughter was a newborn. It was a gift certificate in her name to Kiva.org, a microfinance lending site. Kiva takes small loans from people all over the world and pools them together to give loans to people who may not otherwise be able to get a loan. It is an amazing organization.
While my baby waved her tiny fists and made tiny little newborn noises in my arms, I redeemed the gift certificate and loaned it to a woman in Nicaragua named Lesbia who ran a restaurant. Her writeup said she would use the money to remodel and expand her restaurant as she worked to build an inheritance for her children, one of whom she held in her arms for the photo. (Lesbia and I, we are on the same journey.) Within a year and a half, her loan was repaid. By the time my daughter was toddling around the living room, the same money had been reinvested in a loan to Angelica in Mexico, a young grandma who needed to fix the house she shared with her husband, which was her children’s patrimony. After Angelica, it was a group of women running a clothing business in the Dominican Republic, then a teenaged pig farmer in Ecuador.
Last month, the loan was once again repaid. This time, my daughter helped me pick out Natalya, a farmer in Kyrgyzstan. While we made the loan, I got to tell her the story of her gift certificate. We looked at the photos of people across the world whose lives are connected to my daughter’s through that one present given three years ago. I realize that every person who gives a loan is a dot in the grooves of the entrepreneurs’ lives, adding to their melody. And these people are bumps in the grooves of my daughter’s life too – small connections that, in succession, play a beautiful song.