Posts tagged ‘volunteer’
After an easy trip. I arrive to Accra, Ghana. The first feeling you have when you step out of the plane is an intense hot an humidity, and this in when you miss the snow at home.
It is 8 PM and the Ghanian national football team is playing the semifinals of the African Cup against Burkina Faso. The whole country is mobilized. I can hear the screams all along the airport. For the moment they are drawing, but with good opportunites. Maybe it is because of the macth that taxi drivers are behaving in a foolish way. I asked one of them about a hostel I knew, and he answers me he takes me there without any problem. I jumped on the taxi with all my stuff, we move forward few meters and he starts asking everyone where the hostel is. I ask him if he truly knows where it is, and he answers me no.
I make the same process with another taxi and it happens completely the same, till a kind woman called Evelyn, offers me her help. She told me she knew a hostel not far from her home. I relied on her and her little son John.
After a few minutes drive we arrive to the hostel. It was not as cheap as I expected, but it is 10 am, I am exhausted and the last thing I want to do is wandering in an African city of 3,5 million habitants. I go straight to bed.
The day after everything is the first time for me.
My first bedroom
Mi first sight of Accra
My first bathroom
My first coconut
My first meal
My first defeat.
I realize Ghana lost in penalties. It is in that moment when I remind they almost are the first African country in reaching Worldcup semifinals. An Uruguayan player´s hand and the latter missed penalty of a Ghanian player impeded it.
Bad luck in football continues for me. In El Salvador I attended with Fundación Campo Microfinance the qualifying game between Costa Rica and El Salvador. Of course, they lost.
But this event do not remove the smiles from them. They know what is suffering in the field and out of it. This is why they give thanks for reaching so far and they will try again harder than ever next year.
The day after the defeat, some supporter demonstraiting their devotion for the national team.
Salvadorean people are strict Christians and their most important date in their calendar is Christmas Eve. They celebrate the Birth of baby Jesus. They live this day quite similar to American people: meeting the whole family and sharing together.
This is how 24th December was:
Wake up! Don´t ask me why we get up so early, I don´t understand it yet.
We killed 2 hens, we plucked them and quartered them, with all the preparation they need.
Go to the bank to withdraw the present our brothers & sisters that live in USA has made us in form of remittances. Long queue and slow employees. We wait for an hour.
Go to the market with mami Valentina to buy the last things me need to prepare the dinner. It is crazy how busy was the market!
Come back home alone because I lost my mami in the market. We continue preparing the hens.
We eat eggs with frijoles.
My sister Marcia prepares Honduran Torrejas and sanwiches.
Everything is ready. Lets prepare and stay with friends and family around the area.
Papa Chente, mami Valentina, hermana Marcia and me have dinner together. The menu is roast chicken with thin corn Salvadorean pancakes and pineapple juice.
Family members begin to arrive. We talk, dance, laugh, chat, hug…altogether!
We go to buy fireworks and start exploding them.
We hug every single relative and friend, we wish them merry Christmas and continue exploding fireworks!
We go to bed after good dances of Cumbia, bachata (my favourite one) merengue, salsa…I get lost with dance names and I don´t distinguish them very well.
Merry Christmas and happy 2013!
Few days ago, an American couple that collaborate with Kiva translating loans sent me an email. The team of volunteers they belong to is one of the most important pieces in Kiva (there are nearly 400 volunteers around the world). They make possible all loans, no matter where they come from, are accessible in English.
This couple not only translate loans but also lend money to entrepreneurs through Kiva, especially to El Salvador. Few years ago, they lived for two years in a little Salvadorean village working as volunteers. When they went back to the USA, they did not want to lose contact with this region and they were looking forward to keep helping in the distance. This is how they found in Kiva the best way to do it. They told me translating loans is easy to combine with their current jobs and you control how much you can do.
They told me they would stay for a week in El Salvador visiting some friends they left in the past and they asked me if it was possible to visit any of the borrowers they translated or invested in. The idea of an encounter between borrower and lender captivated me, and we started to work on it. (Not as easy as it may look: transport, communication and logistics is a different story in deep El Salvador).
After some steps we managed to make the challenge of putting borrowers, Mr and Mrs Luehm, and lender, Mrs Delfina, together. It was one of the best moments I have had in El Salvador. Seeing the encounter among these people and the conversation they had was wonderful.
Photo taken by Carlos, credit advisor from Padecomsm, on 23rd December 2011, when Mrs Delfina asked for a loan.
Photo taken on 22nd November 2012. The encounteer.
Nowadays, with initiatives like Kiva ´s, it is not possible to say either “ I want to help , but I don´t know how nor who” or “I dont want to help because I don´t know where my money goes to and the impact it creates”.
In Kiva, you can find more than 2400 stories and pictures of people/families in need, from every sector and from more than 60 countries. Every euro you lend through Kiva reaches the person you choose, and because it is a loan, not a donation, it bets on the sustainability of the project and consequently his life.
Your small amount, 25 dollars, it´s a lot for them.
Kiva, loans that change lives…
…And brings people´s lives together.
Here are all participants in the process of a Kiva loan: Borrower (Mrs Delfina in the center),Microfinance organization, Padecomsms (Rubidia, Kiva Coordinatos, and Carlos, credit advisor, in the left) and Kiva (represented by KF19 Juan).
Thanks Lehm couple and Padecomsm for this magic encounter!
The Kiva fellowship starts.
With a backpack of 18 kg (half of them are the medicines my mother gave to me), a surfboard that cost me a lot of help and money taking with me, and a box of enthusiasm, doubts and hopes, I head El Salvador, as my father said, one of the most lethal countries in the world. But we always focus on the negative side these countries have. As one film says, lets see the bright side of life.
¿Did you know that El Salvador is considered in several studies as one of the five happiest countries in the world? It is also called as the “40 minutes country”, because it is strange to take more than that to get to your destination. Besides, San Salvador is the oldest capital-city in South America, having one the richest cultural and archaeological heritage in the continent Another strength it has are the virgin beaches and natural reserves, that, due to past insecurity problems, are not that popular as its neighbors’´. Finally, the country has figures than have marked history. For instance, Colonel José Arturo Castellanos saved more than 40.000 jewishs from being killed by Nazis, and Consuelo Suncin inspired the rose of Antoine Saint-Exupéry´s book “The little prince”.
Looking this way to El Salvador, it seems a great country despite its small size. And do not worry if you were not able to locate the country in the world map, I could not either.
After a dying journey from Spain (15 hours at Washington DC airport + long discussions with the airline not to pay again for the luggage + a cryer baby behind me + out of order entertainment system), I arrived at 7:00 local time to the hot San Salvador airport.
The first thing we are told to do when we arrive to one of these countries is to register ourselves in the national embassy. After doing it, I was about to leave and walk around the city with all my luggage, but the people in the embassy immediately stopped me saying seriously: Are you crazy? You are an easy target in the streets of San Salvador! As I had no place to go before 18:00 PM, they advised me to go to a location where Spanish people meet, which is called “El Centro Español” and Spanish people don´t pay. ”Despite the tough crisis in Spain There are still places where we are welcome and it is free”, I thought for myself. After their transmission of insecurity, I had no chance to say no, so I went there.
I arrived to the place and what a fabulous surprise! This Centro Español was a social club where wealthy Salvadorians go. It had a nice swimming pool, tennis courts, trampolines, a gym and many more facilities. I was feeling in heaven. After my long (42 hours) and deadly journey it looked that El Salvador was winking at me.
Later El Salvador sent a crazy storm that caused floods in many regions of the country, but by then I was with one recent friend having choripanes and testing the Salvadorian beer Pilsener.
These were my last hours of occidental luxury before I met few hours later my great partners of adventure Fundacion Campo, Padecomsm and Apoyo Integral.
Raphael Ferry | KF18 | Cameroon
I’m not thinking in terms of number of patent filings, amount of venture funding, or angel investors by square foot (or meter), but on many other metrics, Yaoundé, Cameroon far outpaces the more obvious entrepreneurial hubs of London, Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Silicon Valley. Everyone here is an entrepreneur. That spirit is palpable. From papaya sellers, to cell phone credit merchants, to self-proclaimed podiatrists selling shoes, the streets of Cameroun’s capital are swarmed with people dealing in every product you can imagine.
The diversity of enterprises is impressive. You’ll find jeans, q-tips, phones, tomatoes, ties, boiled peanuts, soccer cleats, and grilled corn all on one block. And every seller is somehow creating value. From purchasing ginger in bulk to sell individually to preparing and grilling fish (a delicious meal but with obvious risks for delicate expats), these entrepreneurs are doing everything they can to provide for their families. It’s in busy streets like these that microfinance still has tremendous potential.
By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF 16, Ecuador
What do a song and a wheelchair ramp have in common? If you are a corporate lawyer in Ecuador, you may know the answer. Everybody else, please read on.
Only recently I learned that my host and Kiva´s partner organization Banco D-MIRO has its own company song! It combines a memorable piece of poetry with a rather inspired composition. A recording follows!
By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF 16, Ecuador
Taxi drivers were not in the forefront of my mind when I was walking out of Guayaquil´s international airport into the hot and humid air of this Ecuadorian port city. I had just been welcomed by Rubi Chaca who thankfully was driving me to my hotel. Rubi is the expert in charge of managing the loans made by Kiva lenders at Kiva´s partner organization Banco D-MIRO.
Only minutes before, as my plane was approaching Guayaquil, I had been able to grasp the enormity of this sprawling city. As I was soon to learn, Guayaquil represents a condensed microcosm of the whole country, with all its regions, peoples, and customs being represented. It is a place of extreme contradictions and contrasts…
“You are lucky,” my taxi driver tells me. “You have arrived in the best time in Georgia!”
Like the windshield on a motor-taxi in Phnom Penh rush hour, transparency is vital to Kiva’s survival. To give interest-free loans, lenders deserve to know that every cent of their money is being distributed exactly as promised, whilst borrowers have the right not to be misrepresented.
An important aspect of this transparency, and one which Kiva takes very seriously, is the integrity of the data on its website. Allowing inaccurate data is the first step towards encouraging fraud on the site, which would have severe reputational consequences for Kiva.
A key data check is performed between the time the loan is posted by the MFI, and when it goes live on the website ready for funding. At this point every loan is reviewed by one of a team of over three-hundred online volunteers. These language gurus work from all over the world to translate loans posted in foreign languages and edit those posted in English by Kiva’s field partner microfinance institutions.
This is a crucial link in the chain of events, not only because it ensures that Kiva lenders can understand business postings and thus make informed choices, that lenders are represented with dignity and clarity, but also because it is the one time that every single loan is scrutinized. Editors can, and often do, flag issues ranging from missing information in the loan description, double-postings, loan amount discrepancies, inconsistencies or problems with the borrower picture, to potentially controversial loans, such as a loan for a cockfighting business.
The Editing and Translation volunteers range from a high school microfinance club, to returned Peace Corps volunteers who want to continue contributing to the country where they were stationed, to young mothers home with their children who want to reach out to make a difference, to retired English teachers and technical writers. They are located on six continents around the world.
In my last blog I posted a video which followed a loan from London to Cambodia (A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story Of A Kiva Loan). The client that featured in the video was the smiley and exceptionally accommodating Van Makara, whose loan was posted by field partner AMK and selected by Danielle Lieu and my other ex-colleagues in London to be the recipient of their $25.
When the loan was posted to the Kiva website by Sophanith at AMK, it landed in the work-queue of Lorne Warwick, a retired high school english teacher. He immediately got to work checking the loan posting and editing the English to make it easily comprehensible (perhaps he should have edited this introduction too). His edits can be seen below.
Lorne Warwick has edited over six hundred loans in the past four months alone. And while no-one will ever really understand the complex algorithms running within Danielle Lieu’s brain that made her pick Mrs Van Makara for her first Kiva loan, it’s certain that Lorne’s edits did a fantastic job of making the loan posting infinitely more readable (ideal for people who are sifting through Kiva loans in the office when they should really be working).
Lorne, a keen blogger himself, kindly agreed to write about his involvement in Kiva and what goes into the editing process. This is what he wrote:
Entry by Lorne Warwick, Kiva Volunteer Editor
As the editor of the loan to Mrs. Van Makara, the subject of the excellent video, “A Fistful of Dollars: The Story of a Kiva.org Loan,” I have been asked to write briefly about my involvement with Kiva and what goes into the editing process.
A retired high school English teacher, my path to Kiva was largely serendipitous. In my first year of retirement, I purposely avoided making any commitments that would impose specific structure on my day, since structure was something that had defined my professional existence for 30 years. Content to take each day as it came, I busied myself with small home-improvement activities (never quite finding time for that major renovation needed in our basement!), an education research subcontract, and some sporadic writing.
My second year found me with a desire for a little more structure, so I began volunteering at a local food bank sorting and shelving donations. The very immediate results wrought by strictly physical effort were and still are quite gratifying. However, as time went on, I began to want to be of more service to others, never forgetting how fortunate I was to have been able to retire while still in my fifties, healthy and financially secure. The thought of paid work held no appeal. After becoming a lender with Kiva, one day I noticed a button on the site that said “Do More,” and to my delight found that the organization was seeking editors. The rest, as they say, is history, and I have now been editing loan descriptions for the past year, usually assigned two sets (with an average of 12-15 per set) each week by Kristy Harrison, one of Kiva’s volunteer coordinators living in England.
Perhaps the most powerful inducement for me in editing loan descriptions stems from my work as a teacher. I always had a special respect and admiration for those students who came to me, not to complain about their mark or try to wheedle a few extra points out of the old man, but rather were genuinely motivated to try to better their academic results. Essentially, they said, “I want to improve my work, and I want you to help me to reach that goal.”
Expressing such a desire meant I was at their service, and, in partnership, as long as they maintained that attitude and commitment, progress invariably ensued – progress not sudden and spectacular, but instead slow and steady. At the end of term, students would sometimes thank me for my help, but I would tell them that they had done all of the hard work – I had merely provided a framework and structure for their efforts.
This is precisely how I feel about Kiva, its mission, and my small role within the organization. The people seeking loans, already vetted and assessed by local Kiva financial partners, are the ones who bring the commitment, the motivation, and the goals to the deal – we are merely the conduit by which those goals can be achieved. Like the students I worked with for so many years, they have my deep respect and admiration, and I am happy to be of service to them.
Which brings me to the other aspect of Kiva that I find so immensely appealing: its model does much to renew the human spirit. I am convinced that the desire to help others exists in most of us, but this spirit of philanthropy needs regular cultivation. For example, many people have specific charities to which they regularly donate, and are quick to respond to pleas for money when natural and human disasters happen. However, these contributions are often made to large and seemingly faceless organizations tasked with dispersing the funds in a responsible and ethical manner. Our involvement in assisting the lives is thereby quite limited. The Kiva model, however, invites on-going participation in the lives of the borrowers, first as we select the region, the entrepreneurial activity and the borrower, and later as we can track the success of the loan through its repayment. The entire process is a steady reminder that we, as individuals, can indeed have a positive effect on the lives of our fellow human beings.
Kiva is an organization powered by a vision that is ideal for the times in which we live. While the events of the world and the actions of our leaders may frequently invite despair, Kiva is a vital reminder of the good that still exists, indeed thrives, in the heart of humanity. I feel privileged to be a small part of its efforts.
To view two more examples of loan edits, go to the following links
And to see a short video of live editing as it happens, check out the Cecilia Andoh loan live editing video
If you or anyone you know would be interested in becoming part of the Volunteer Editing and Translation Team at Kiva, visit http://www.kiva.org/about/opportunities/ and follow the appropriate links.