Posts filed under ‘Guatemala’
By Kiva Fellows | KF19 | All Over the World
With January 2013 coming to an end, KF19 fellows are either continuing on with KF20 or returning home to various responsibilities and careers. Regardless of the next adventure or destination, one thing is common among all: KF19 fellows have been permanently changed by their placements.
What began as a joint blog post about any person, place, or event during the course of the fellowship that affected our lives, of itself turned into simply the one person who left the most impact. Afterall, Kiva’s mission is to alleviate poverty through connecting people. The fellows of KF19 have witnessed this connection over the course of the last three to four months, and nothing could have prepared us for meeting the people who would touch our lives in various ways.
KF19 presents to you Kiva One, a small collection of stories about human connections, hope, and inspiration.
Here is a peek into my daily routine as a Kiva Fellow in Sololá, Guatemala. My schedule usually goes something like this…
8:00AM – Wake-Up
8:15AM – Emails, Updates and Writing for my travel blog
8:45AM – Arrive at ADICLA Office in Sololá, Guatemala
9:00AM – Plan our day of borrower visits, Kiva training and other tasks
10:00AM – Leave office
10:20AM – Morning snack at the central market in Sololá
10:40AM – Begin motorcycle ride into the countryside to visit borrowers
11:30AM – Arrive at first borrower’s home to gather information, take photos and get a participation signature (in this video we filmed a Kiva”Thank You” piece)
12:15PM – Arrive at second borrower’s home (in this video the borrower didn’t arrive, which is a regular occurrence when there are crops to be harvested)
1:30PM – Lunch at one of my favorite spots just outside the town of San Andres. Churrasco, chorizo, black beans, tomato sauce, cheese and a Coca Cola!
2:30PM – Wait at the San Andres ADICLA Office for a borrower group to arrive. Juan Carlos and I exchanged language lessons (Kakchiquel and English).
3:00PM – Group Borrower Meeting
3:45PM – Ride back to Sololá
5:10PM – Upload new borrower profiles
7:00PM – Leave office for the night, change and snack
7:30PM – Get it right. Get it tight.
8:15PM – Grocery shopping
8:45PM – Shower and Dinner
9:30PM – Catch up on emails, writing, Kiva Fellow tasks and travel blog work
That’s my day as a Kiva Fellow!
Living in the heart of the Mayan Empire has given me the opportunity to get to the bottom of all the “End of the World” rumors that I’m sure you’ve all heard about by now.
It has been said that the Mayans predicted the world’s demise to be scheduled for December 21, 2012, and just like any international apocalypse talk, marketing schemes and business ploys followed soon after.
I wanted to see if I should start maxing out the credit cards or not, so I went to the Mayan Ruins of Tikal in Peten, Guatemala to ask an expert.
We had a great tour guide at the ruins named Donnie “Speedy” Gonzales, and he broke down the truth behind all the “End of the World” hype.
Here’s what he said…
He said that the Mayans did not predict the end of the world, just the end of an era. This era is a period of 400 years on the Mayan Calendar called a Baktun, and we are completing the 13th Baktun (Not the 14th as it says in the video) this December 21, 2012.
He also said the Mayans predicted a worldly transformation on this date, where the earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and will “be more conscious of their neighborhood.” In other words, a focus on the greater good!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this magnetic shift! Hopefully that means a great influx of lenders to Kiva!
As in life, the key to a happy, healthy and productive Kiva Fellowship is largely based on the relationships you form with those around you. The difference with this experience however, is that you don’t have the opportunity to spend years earning trust, respect and admiration from your peers. You must find a way to infiltrate the hearts and minds of your colleagues and clients in a relatively short period of time in order to truly be successful.
With that being said, there is no relationship more influential to the success of your Kiva Fellowship than the one you build with your MFI (microfinance institution). If you win them over, the rest will sort itself out; at least, that is what has happened for me.
Guard dogs, long hikes and broken-down motos are just a few of the obstacles we face on our hunt to track down new Kiva borrowers.
Along with my trustee co-pilot/loan officer/BFF, Juan Carlos, we’ve managed to catch up with 28 new borrowers this month, and the quest to do-so has been nothing short of an adventure.
In the majority of cases, we’re given a hand-drawn map at the ADICLA headquarters, marked with a few points of interests and accompanied by the customary “you can’t miss it.”
From there, we set off into the countryide and neighboring villages of Sololá with a mission to shake hands and deliver opportunity.
We’re able to zoom in on our financial targets through a pinball-like strategy of asking one neighbor after another until a name sticks with somebody. It’s a numbers game, but we always find a match (eventually).
The paths we take often turn into winding sidewalks, between and through homes, fields and workshops, so we count on the fact that people of the Guatemalan countryside know their neighbors by name within a few mile radius.
The things we don’t often factor in along our journey however, are what make this glorified scavenger hunt so exciting.
Last week alone , we were chased off a property by three protective guard dogs, hiked 45-minutes up a terrace farm in the pouring rain and had to repair Juan Carlos’ moto four times in two hours because apparently the chain isn’t fit for a 200 lbs gringo.
These are the moments that make our meetings so special.
The opportunity I have to visit borrowers, in their natural surroundings, in what may seem like the most remote of locations, has no doubt been the highlight of this fellowship.
From fabric weavers and mecanics, to grocery store clerks and onion farmers, once we make it through the obstacle course that is the actual arrival, we’re always met with open arms and big smiles.
Sometimes I think their smiles come from us being there and other times I think it just makes them happy knowing what we went through to find them.
Here are a few more visual highlights of our conquests thus far…
By Gareth Leonard, KF19, Guatemala
We’re only two weeks into dating and she’s already shown me enough to get my heart racing and palms sweating in anticipation. She’s humble and traditional, yet her raw beauty seduces me at every curve.
Working with a new and ambitious field partner has given me the opportunity to see a few different sides to her already. I’ve visited eleven borrowers in two distinct regions since my arrival and I’m hooked. I know we just met and we’re barely rounding first, but I can’t wait to see what else she’ll expose once we get to know each other better.
I’ll keep you posted on my love affair with Guatemala as it unfolds, but in the meantime, here are a few visuals to show you where we stand thus far.
The first two weeks of my fellowship found me cruising around the Guatemalan countryside on the back of an old Honda Enduro, as we ventured from borrower to borrower, collecting information and absorbing all the scenery. These moments helped shape my first impressions of Guatemala.
The rough and wild roads provide the perfect vantage point to capture her beauty, from stunning villages that cascade down into Lake Atitlan to waterfalls that cut through the cliffs above.
While the views are spectacular, nothing compares to meeting the borrowers first-hand and learning about how they’re developing their businesses through Kiva loans.
On my downtime, I’ve been exploring my new surroundings the best way I know how – Eat everything in sight. A new friend introduced me to the best Ceviche in Panajachel and I’ve been addicted ever since.
Can you see why I’m smitten already?
David Gorgani | KF17 + KF18 | Guatemala
Aptly-named for the high number of chickens that utilize its services, whether in a cage, with a string tied around their legs or simply held tightly by their caretakers, chicken buses (camionetas) are the primary form of inter-city transport throughout Central America. While those of you who have spent time traveling in Central America know exactly what I’m talking about, now would be a good opportunity for the rest of you to prepare yourselves to be blown away.