Read this if you have ever been to the Salvation Army, or if your church has ever had a clothes drive, or if you have ever put clothes in those huge yellow bins at Pepperdine. If you are curious if your clothes end up on the backs of the people you set out to help or if you were wondering what happened to the shirts that said the Celtics won the finals this past year
We set out on borrower visits yesterday, and I was VERY excited. I was visiting a borrower that I lent too before I knew I got the Kiva fellowship, and a borrower that I knew some of the lenders too! At Kiva training, they mentioned that we are the only people in the world that touch all sides of the Kiva process, and its true, I know the lenders, the people that make Kiva run, the MFI, and now the borrowers.
Also, on this visit, we visited a non-Kiva loan that sold second-hand clothes. I was curious. Over the course of my life, I have been constantly donating clothes to whatever foundation or church as I grow out of them. For me, more than helping people, it has been cathartic experience as I narrow down the number of possessions I have, but I know others who donate for the express purpose of helping those in need.
In Guatemala, they call them Megapacas, but they are second hand clothing stores full of clothes from the states. People, like this entreprenuer, buy 100lbs of clothes (wrapped up in huge bag) for Q950 (over $100!) and resell them. A whole industry made out of the clothes that you once donated. In this clients house, there were 18 of such bags, and they mentioned that you never get to see whats inside, its just luck of the draw. The first few times, they bought from someone who they didn´t know and once ended up with a couple hundred pounds of mechanics uniforms (with the names ripped off so the clothes where damaged).
I looked on one bag to see a label “Donations from the Church of Christ of the Later Day Saints”. The client said, the only problem with clothes from America is that people there are so fat and tall… the 14 year old American is a full grown Guatemalan. A world away, we are satisfied to see our old clothes go to a “good cause” without even guessing that they are sold to the people that need them most (including the resaler).