I’m already four weeks into my fellowship and as I anticipated, it’s been full of surprises!

A consultant by training, I’m in my element when I’m in an office, laptop in hand and armed with my shortcut keys. This is why I jumped at the chance to conduct my first Kiva training session. We pulled together a Power Point presentation, drafted and translated ‘cheat sheets’ and were ready to go. …or so we thought… Talk about an emotional journey!

The day started well with,

Enthusiasm: Granted, I was probably the only one who was excited for the session to begin but I Fn+F10-ed and the presentation was up and running. Then came…
: “Wait! That’s the search bar not the address bar.”
: Forgetting to translate the calendar months could have resulted in a mad grab-bag of dates had it not been for a quick cross-reference table and printer.
: Taking up 3 computers for the better part of the day in an office with limited resources was not spectacularly well received by senior management…
By the end of the day, everyone got the hang of it and profiles proliferated!

Needless to say, it was a most educational day and despite the shaky emotional foundation, it wasn’t drastically different from the countless office days I’d experienced before.

Contrast this with the unfamiliar field. I find myself on the back of a motorcycle (breaking the only rule my dad ever gave me) and traveling to the community house that doubles as the FPW repayment center once a month. I realize that I have left my office sanctuary and <<CTRL+Z>> is not going to save me. I can’t take back the loud crashing noise of my motorcycle helmet falling to the floor or rescind my confusing question of “do you enjoy your job”. I don’t know much about animal husbandry or agriculture or raising a family, and I can’t quickly google ‘Le Mon’ to figure out what it is. but somehow, it doesn’t matter. The women welcome my questions and share details of their lives. I hear stories of strength and hard work – hauling fertilizer to and from train cars certainly puts my ‘long hours’ into perspective; of sacrifice – expensive medical trips to get better treatment for their children; and most often, I hear of success. “Increased earnings, new TVs, demand for more loans!” There is definitely no shortage of demand for microcredit here, and to me that is a sign that there is a need being fulfilled and that these loans are working!

No shortcut key could’ve taught me that.


Join the Vietnam Critical Mass Lending Team
See loans currently being fundraised by the Fund for Thanh Hoa Poor Women


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