As I say, it's A and S's birthday tomorrow.
It is also, today my Mum's birthday. And my sister's boyfriend's. On Sunday it was my cousin's. It's my brother's on Saturday.
And eleven days later (with my own birthday in between, though fortunately I'm not responsible for buying the presents for that one) it's You Know What. For which, not including the ones from You Know Who, I have to buy 49 separate gifts.
I'm doing a lot of shopping at the moment. Stashed away in my secret cupboard with my highly confidential client files I've got playmobil and lego, cashmere and silk, chopping boards and mixers, games and puzzles. Literally.
But actually the present I'm most excited by is the one I've just bought.
It's a Deki voucher. Or three Deki vouchers. £10 each for each of the girls.
Deki contacted me to tell me about themselves and the vouchers, but they aren't giving me anything to write this post. I am genuinely, boringly (I've told everyone I've seen since) excited by this.
Because Deki do micro-loans. A small sum loaned by my children to someone in a developing country to help them set up a business, and (hopefully) in due course repaid. And from my children's point of view, the best bit is that with Deki, you get to choose who the money goes to. Deki is, I think (from a cursory google search), the only UK-based charity through whom this is possible.
So after Christmas and the consumption has died down, the girls and I can sit round the computer and decide. Do they want to give their money to Lucy's restaurant in Malawi or do they think that Heleine's shop in Togo is a better place for it?
Once they've decided, they lend their money, all £10 of it, to the person they've chosen. And, hopefully, in due course, it comes back into their Deki account. Once it does, they can, if they wish, cash it in and spend it on sweets, or, I hope, invest it in someone else.
They will receive no interest on the money, but they should (Deki has a 99% repayment rate) get it all back. Interest is charged on the loans but this is used by Deki's not-for-profit operating partners in the countries concerned to cover operating costs only. Deki itself is a charity and its costs are covered by donations.
My children are still very young. They have very little understanding of money, other than that it has value to other people, so I don't think this is going to teach them much about money or finance or lending, but I do hope that, at the very least, it will encourage them to take an interest in people with very different lives, and I'd like to think that Deki, or micro-lending generally will become a habit. I certainly intend it to for me.
I don't want to sound smug or sanctimonious, but I genuinely do think that this might be the present we all remember long after the playmobil has been packed back into its box.
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