Matt Raimondi, KF11
Life as a Kiva Fellow has been a huge change of pace from the rest of my life, a chance to slow down and reflect on all the changes in my life while experiencing to a tremendous learning opportunity. It has been an eye opening experience and I have been amazed at how many things I take for granted in my life. Through my reflections I’ve come to realize that it’s the little things that count. And so for my final post as a Kiva Fellow I present you with the top 11 things (yes, 11) that I am thankful for from my Kiva Fellowship in Honduras (in no particular order).
- Running water – To say Juticalpa has water infrastructure issues is an understatement. Most people rely on cisterns, pilas or a well for their water. Many people do not have running water and the government is “working” on fixing the water issues. I get water in my apartment in the early morning and evenings from a cistern. Never have I been so happy and grateful to have running water when I wake up.
- Electricity –Juticalpa is hot and humid year round. Brownouts happen almost every day and most Saturdays the power is turned off so that the power company can “conduct routine maintenance” (I don’t buy it). Most people in developed countries take their consistent supply of electricity for granted. Being in a place without consistent electricity has made me realize how dependent we are on electricity and given me a great appreciation for it.
- Internet – The first time I tried to explain how Kiva works to a borrower I was lost for words when I realized the client had no idea what the internet was. How was this possible? Doesn’t everyone use the internet and have a Facebook profile? The internet is an amazing resource I often take for granted.
- Exercising – Exercise is a luxury I’ve always taken for granted. I go running twice a week with a FAMA coworker, people stare and children run after us like it’s a game. Barely anyone exercises here. Some people here call it laziness but I’ve come to realize that it’s because most people work extremely long days and what little time or energy is left at the end of a day is spent resting or taking care of their families.
- Friends & Family – The most important people in our lives are unfortunately those we most often take for granted. Thank you to my family and friends for being so supportive and always being there for me. I could not have done this without you.
- Kind strangers – I am thankful for strangers who offer a smile, a kind word or directions when I am lost. It makes a world of difference in a foreign place. My first day in Juticalpa I met an American while eating at a restaurant. She was about to leave for a two week trip to the US and offered me the use of her apartment during her absence until I could find an apartment. She is now one of my best friends in Juticalpa and I will never forget her kindness. Thank you.
- Hondurans – Hondurans can be shy and timid, especially with strangers. They are also extremely welcoming, generous and inclusive once approached. They have enriched my experience immensely.
- A sense of purpose – What makes you get out of bed every day? Why do you exist? I believe a sense of purpose is one of the greatest feelings a person can experience. Through the ups and downs of my Kiva Fellowship my thoughts always came back to one question. Why am I here and how can I make a difference? Three months is a very short period of time and my time in Honduras has served as a reminder to be proactive, make the most of your time and to tackle everything with a sense of purpose.
- New friends – My adjustment to Juticalpa was seamless and I attribute a lot of that the amazing people I met during my Kiva Fellowship. The people at my MFI (FAMA OPDF), the locals, and US expats were welcoming, generous and accepted me with open arms. I am extremely grateful for all of the friends I have made in the past three months.
- FAMA clients – Like many Kiva lenders, one of my reasons for getting involved with Kiva was because of the connection Kiva creates between lenders and borrowers. One of the most amazing parts of my fellowship was meeting Kiva clients and hearing their stories. They are hardworking, generous and truly grateful for your faith and support through Kiva Loans.
- An open mind – One of the greatest things I came away with from my Kiva Fellowship is the importance of having an open mind. Life happens (good and bad), every experience is an opportunity to learn. An open mind is like a key to the world. It allows you to make the most of every experience and enables you to learn and grow as a person.
Matt Raimondi is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow at FAMA OPDF in Juticalpa, Olancho, Honduras. FAMA OPDF is a pilot Field Partner and recently posted their first Kiva loans. Click here to support FAMA OPDF by making a loan to one of our entrepreneurs. Click here for more information on FAMA OPDF.