479103Tonight I made a loan to a woman in the Philippines I’ll never meet. I know very little about her. Melodina P. is a 40-year-old widow with two school-age children. She sells food products in the local marketplace. My contribution to her loan completed the amount she wanted to borrow — $150.

I made my loan through Kiva, a website that arranges these loans all over the world. You click in, read about the individuals and groups who need money, and make your loan to the people you choose. Kiva handles the rest.

Actually, though, I didn’t cough up any new cash. I’d made a loan through Kiva a couple of years ago, to a group of women in Kenya who needed to buy fabric so they could make and sell clothing. They paid back my loan, and I lent it again to a rice farmer and her husband in Cambodia who needed a new motor for their battery recharger, a side business that allows them to earn $5 a day. They paid it back, and I lent it to…

You get the idea. I love seeing the money that I have to give constantly renew itself. On the Kiva website, the needs change minute by minute. Just as I was going to click on a loan to a woman in the Dominican Republic, her loan was completed. I get progress reports on my loans, and when the whole amount has been repaid, I get to do it again. Maybe next time I’ll make a loan to someone in Tajikistan, or the Sudan. It’s a very good way to make a small contribution work over and over again. Take a look at the Kiva website; you just might get hooked yourself.