Week in Review: The fluidity of families

Last night, we hosted an open house for Kiva Zip borrowers, trustees and lenders. It was incredible to watch powerful online connections transform into an equally strong offline community. United in our passion for microfinance and entrepreneurship, it's remarkable how quickly we bonded and discovered even more common ground.

We often refer to the "Kiva family," a bit of a catch-all phrase that includes both smaller groups -- lending teams, meetup groups, our followers on Twitter and Facebook -- and the Kiva community at large. This fluid definition recognizes that family often looks and feels quite different from a Norman Rockwell painting.

An open, flexible conception of family isn't new. The old adage that says it take a village to raise a child speaks directly to this idea: The best way to foster dreams is to pool the talent, skills and time of a larger community. By connecting thousands of people around the world online, Kiva enables resources to be exchanged in new ways, extending opportunities to people who had previously been excluded.

As we grow more comfortable with interconnectivity, it's important to remember that these micro and macro families alike face obstacles. While communities can fill in some gaps, fathers play a key role in shaping the lives of future generations. Children of involved fathers exhibit increased empathy, self-esteem and positive social skills -- not to mention happiness. Beyond that, girls that grow up in fatherless homes are more likely to marry early, give birth early and expose themselves to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. Check out this United Nations study of global fatherhood to learn more.

Microfinance has become quite women-centric, and while issues pertaining to equality and female empowerment are critical, the solution is not to level the playing field by dragging men down. Instead, we should recognize the critical role they play in families, communities and economies, and seek to strengthen opportunity for everyone.

Even the best father can be rendered helpless without access to the resources necessary to provide for his family. With Kiva, you can give fathers and families around the world the tools they need to build brighter futures for themselves and their children.

With hundreds of Kiva borrowers identifying themselves as fathers, we urge you to join the Kiva family (if you haven't already) and help foster the dreams of this generation and those to come.

Here are links to a couple interesting stories about fathers that caught our attention:

Good Magazine put together this collection of the most important lessons their dads taught them.

In this segment from Radiolab, a young woman shares the moving story of searching for the man who donated sperm used for her conception.

How are you celebrating Father's Day? What did you learn from your father? Tell us at blog@kiva.org.

photos courtesy of Angela7dreams, hkyag

About the author

Brigitte Bradford