Saturday, April 18, 2015

Springtime and KIVA

It's that time of the month again, when you get that e-mail telling you how much you have accumulated in repayments on your KIVA loans. The figure varies from month to month, some months it may only be $10.00 or $12.00. This month it was $73.00 USD! So I went on a spree and made three new loans, which meant I loaned out $75.00 USD plus the $3.25 per loan donation to cover KIVA's office costs.

But I keep thinking what a world of good $25.00 can do. Here it buys a burger combo for each of us which we most certainly do not need. In Central or South America, Africa or Palestine, India or Indonesia it can mean the difference between a year of hunger or full tummies, blindness or sight, education for your children, a roof over your head or sleeping rough.

It's so very hard to choose. I wish I had a thousand dollars to loan. Right now there's a woman and a man who both need eye surgery to save the sight in their one remaining eye. There are families who need loans which they will use to provide clean water for their families, women trying to build simple homes to shelter their children, or who need to repair their tricycle delivery bikes. All we can do is help one or two a month, but for those we can help, our $25.00 is one cord in the lifeline they need. Now, let me introduce you to those we made loans to this month.

Our first loan goes to this Mexican lady. For obvious reasons her name and identity are not revealed but we'll call her Lupita. Lupita wears dentures, and recently they broke, leaving her without the ability to properly chew her food, affecting her speech and her appearance. Lupita is currently working, but she is the sole support for her household and money is very tight. It is impossible for her to get new dentures because she does not have the money to pay for them, which led her to the KIVA field partner Alvio to apply for a medical loan.

These loans allow KIVA borrowers to pay for medical treatment. Low-income families are often forced to sell family assets or resort to borrowing from loan sharks in order to pay for unexpected medical bills. By providing these families with accessible financing, Alivio enables patients to, over time, pay their hospital bills and doctor’s fees, as well as to buy any medical equipment needed for their recovery.

Our second loan goes to Marita, a married Bolivian woman with two daughters who are still living at home. She makes a living selling groceries and takes advantage of the fact that her husband is a chauffeur. When he travels she takes merchandise to trade with other businesses. Her husband does not earn a lot of money because he is only paid for each completed drive and sometimes he only gets two or three requests a month.

So she decided to help with the household costs by selling groceries and eventually added clothing to her inventory. But her business is not very big because she doesn't have much capital to buy stock to sell.

Recently, she was diagnosed with uterine tumors and she needs surgery. This is why she is asking for a loan-so she can cover her surgery costs and purchase the medicine she needs after the operation. One of her daughters is ill with asthma, a condition she has suffered with since she was a small child. The family's current monthly income cannot cover both medical expenses of mother and daughter.

Marita applied for a loan through KIVA's field partner in Bolivia CIDRE. CIDRE is a Bolivian microfinance institution with a strong social commitment to the community. It works to provide quality financial services to rural and suburban borrowers, focusing primarily on agricultural loans for dairy farmers and micro-enterprises.

CIDRE targets segments of the population that have not traditionally had access to credit, and invests in much-needed community development projects. CIDRE medical loans enables Kiva borrowers to pay for medical treatment. These borrowers face higher barriers to obtain loans due to their health conditions. To protect their privacy, the faces of borrowers from CIDRE may be obscured in photos. By funding CIDRE medical loans, you are helping provide critical medical needs.

And our third and final loan goes to Jose, a 35-year-old man who lives in Sacaba, Bolivia. He and his partner have a son of eight years and a daughter who is 10. Jose works at a salaried job in a ceramics factory, in the quality control department, work that he does on a consistent schedule from Monday to Friday. 

He is a good father, understanding, with a good attitude. He is patient, responsible and hard-working. His work is located in the rural village of Sacaba, known for its cuisine based in guinea pigs and famous for its many factories that make corn chicha (which is a product of fermented corn). The village is known jokingly as "Sacaba - where the chicha never runs out". It has a temperate climate with a temperature that varies during the day between 19-25 degrees centigrade. 

Jose has dark skin, dark eyes, wears glasses, has short, straight, black hair, is short, has a medium physique. His native language is Quechua which he speaks at home though he speaks Spanish at work. His partner works selling vegetables and his children are students. They live in their own house made of brick and cement with a roof of metal sheeting. The house has electricity, but to get water, they have to walk about 10 minutes to the river to collect water in buckets and put it in barrels for different uses. 

"In the three years since I built my house, we have not had clean water because the town's water service is new in the zone..." he says. The advantage of his work is that it leaves the weekends free to be with his family and the disadvantage is that the days are long. His dream is to have potable water in his house. He wants to install potable water in his kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area so that his family doesn't use the dirty water from the river. 

KIVA's field partner Emprender has been working in Bolivia since 1999. It is dedicated to becoming a key tool in the development of its clients and the improvement of their quality of life. Operating in three of Bolivia’s major cities – La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz – Emprender offers both urban and rural clients the opportunity to obtain financial products tailored to fit their needs and businesses. These products include housing loans, salary loans, “opportunity” (short-term) loans, and higher education loans. To better the quality of life for its clients and non-clients through non-financial services, Emprender offers free medical consultations and health classes given by trained doctors.

This loan will help fund a new product Emprender has launched to provide clean drinking water and sanitary facilities to Bolivian families. Emprender is partnering with Fundación SODIS, an NGO specializing in water and sanitation access, to make this possible. SODIS identifies households that need water tanks, running water toilets, ecological toilets, water filters and water connections in underserved areas, and supervises their installation. Emprender works with SODIS to help finance these the infrastructure improvements.
This is the first loan cycle with Emprender in the three years since Jose has started on the construction of his house. With this opportunity, Jose has asked for a loan to connect to the town's water system and install pipes to provide clean water in his kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area so that his family can stop using the dirty water from the river. 

Thank goodness we can share, for so many years we were unable to, as we didn't have the financial means to do so, and there was no Internet, and no KIVA to make it possible to share like this on a direct scale. 

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