Posts tagged ‘environment’
Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky
Kiva Fellows observed Earth Day by sharing projects initiated by their partner microfinance institutions and host countries and by celebrating Kiva.org’s first batch of “Green Loans”. The upbeat mood also extended to anniversary parties at MFIs in Jordan and Armenia, enthusiastic endorsements to travel to Colombia, and reporting on a great opportunity for Kiva clients in Mongolia. Fellows also visited with borrowers in the Philippines, South Africa, and Armenia, and took us on a typical commute in Mexico City. All in all, a very busy week as members of KF14 wind down their time in the field.
Compiled by Caree Edson, KF 14, Armenia
One of the unfortunate sight-seeing adventures that you never sign up for when you travel (especially in developing countries) is the unseemly amount of trash cluttering the otherwise beautiful landscapes. In Armenia, it isn’t possible to see the horizon through the smog most days and the streets are covered in cigarette butts and litter. I found no exceptions to this as I inquired from other Kiva Fellows about the dire situation in their countries. Environmental education and reform are simply not a top priority in many countries. But the future of climate change initiatives are not entirely hopeless…
That’s a question I’d never considered before serving as a Kiva Fellow. I figured that charcoal is a dirty and unsustainable source of fuel, and not one that I want to support. Charcoal production causes massive deforestation and produces considerable emissions of carbon dioxide. So when presented with the option of lending to a charcoal seller on Kiva’s website, I always selected an entrepreneur in a different sector to support.
Flash forward a few months – I have now enjoyed hundreds of meals cooked on charcoal stoves and grills, first in Rwanda and now in Tanzania. I’ve also met about a dozen Kiva clients who make their living producing and selling charcoal. These experiences haven’t made me a full advocate for continued use of charcoal fuel. They have, however, made me realize that the issues surrounding sustainable energy are not white and black, but closer to charcoal grey. So here’s why I would now consider lending to a charcoal seller and supporting them through Kiva…
Transportation has been an integral part of my travels in South America. I have been in cars, vans, buses, scooters, motorcycles, trains, boats, planes, even a bus transported by a boat and of course I have walked.
By Sloane Berrent, KF8, Ahon sa Hirap, Inc, Philippines
“How has Ahon sa Hirap, Inc.” (ASHI and my host microfinance institution) “being here in your barangay or in your town helped your community?”I ask the women from ASHI during each Center meeting that I attend. There are a few variations on this question. I ask how their lives have changed and what the Center means to them.
“My husband had a stroke and couldn’t work anymore. I worked as a domestic in town and had to travel very far every day for not a lot of money. I joined ASHI 7 years ago to start a buy and sell fish business so that I could stay closer to home to take care of my husband and help my children.”
“After my husband died, I was so lonely. My children are all grown up and out of the house. I was sad. I joined ASHI 13 years ago and now my life is so different. I laugh. I come here every week to see my friends.”
“My house was very bad and made from old bamboo. When typhoon season came, my family had to run to our neighbors because we were scared our house would collapse. With my ASHI loan, I was able to move my Sari Sari store to a busier corner where workers pass by on their way to the fields. I open at 4AM and close at 8PM but am very happy. Now 10 years later, we now have a house made of stone and we don’t run from the typhoons anymore.”
But has it changed MORE than that? What about an entire town?
I had heard that seeing microfinance in action could be like watching grass grow. So gradual, so slow. How could I say that there is indeed a larger change in the landscape of where microfinance sets up shop?
I turned to the ASHI staff. It was a Saturday night and we were going to go out to dinner together. The two Kiva Coordinators asked me if we could stop in the new local mall that opened so that could grab a few things.
“Sure,” I said. No problem.
We walked to the end of the drive and hopped into a tricycle and took off towards the mall. There was light traffic, the road wasn’t too bumpy, we arrived to throngs of people gathering outside the mall, in the entrance, more teenagers and families gathered.
“This has been huge for our town,” the one Kiva Coordinator said.