Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Why I Lend: to help secure a happier future

Lendwithcare lender, Daniel Openshaw, tells us why he lends ...

Srebrenica Memorial
© CARE/Jon Spaull
I started to lend with care on the day that Ratko Mladic was put on trial in The Hague for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war, 1992-95. Mladic's alleged atrocities rank amongst the worst in living memory; certainly they typify for most people the pointless horrors and bloodshed of war. He became known as the 'Butcher of Bosnia' by the media who love a nickname no matter how much it tends to trivialise the nature of heinous acts, but there was nothing trivial about Mladic's repeated slaughtering and raping under the guise of Serb nationalism. His most infamous attack was on Srebrenica, a Bosniak town under supposed UN protection in 1995 where he rounded up Bosniak boys and men and over five days his forces shot dead more than 7,500 before burying them in mass graves.

Imagine living through this regime. Imagine the fear. Simply because of your ethnicity, who you are, how you were born, you might get shot, tortured, or raped. You might have to watch people you love be shot, tortured or raped. This must have been the reality for every civilian living in Bosnia at the time but as is always the case, women are disproportionately affected by the horrors of war. It must have been hell. And what's more it all happened in living memory.

Entrepreneur Mirjana Tadic
Lendwithcare entrepreneur Mirjana Tadic is 43. When the war started she would have been 23. If it is hard enough to imagine living through the terror of war, the terror that a monster like Mladic could force his way into your village and your home at any moment and basically do as he pleases, then imagine trying to rebuild your life afterwards. I find the prospect incomprehensible. However, Mirjana's story is that of a fairytale: a widow bringing up her only son, selling the milk that their cow produces to survive. There are certainly parallels with a certain beanstalk related fable but in this real-life story Mirjana has dreams and she is taking control of them, she doesn’t want to have to steal gold from a giant in the sky in order to achieve them. They are not surviving off the cow, she already has a job, but she is an entrepreneur who wants to buy another cow and use the extra income to build a better life for her and her son. Mirjana is prepared to work hard, but she did need some help - some magic beans if you will - to get started. She needed to borrow £948.66 to buy her second cow, she wasn’t asking for the world and she wasn’t asking for it all from one person. I lent her £15 and what is more she is determined to pay it back. I’ve since heard that Mirjana has been fully funded.

Whilst Mladic was facing his demons in The Hague, Mirjana was bravely looking to the future. Lending with care to her was the least I could do to help secure a happy ending for her fairytale.

By lendwithcare lender, Daniel Openshaw

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