Featured Volunteer: Pam McMurry, the grass is greener on this side with over 1,000 translated loans!

‘'It’s amazing to see the other volunteers dedicating themselves to Kiva. I am truly in awe of them and how much they know. I can always draw on them through the forum when I have a question and within seconds people respond!"

City: Minneapolis, United States

Languages: Spanish

Team: Saliendo Adelante

Time with Kiva: 3 years and 5 months

Outstanding contributions to Kiva:
Pam McMurry, a dedicated Spanish translator, is coming up on 3.5 years reviewing loan profiles and has translated over 1,000 Spanish loans for Kiva. She has great respect for her fellow volunteers and often turns to them on the forum, asking some great questions and sometimes contributing from knowledge gained from travel in South and Central America.

Here's a short Q&A with this incredible volunteer:

How did you find out about Kiva?
I first learned about Kiva about five years ago when my son gave me a Kiva Card for Christmas. I soon became much more familiar with Kiva when my daughter, Cynthia, became a Kiva Fellow and then a field specialist in South America. For the first few years, I just made loans and renewed them, but then I wondered if I was proficient enough in Spanish to translate. I was happy to have the opportunity to help Kiva and also to improve my knowledge of Spanish.

What is your favorite partner or region?
I don’t really have a favorite, but since the Spanish loans are from Central and South America, I especially enjoy seeing loans from places where I have traveled. I visited Peru several times when my daughter was working from the field, and I’ve also traveled to Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico. I remember visiting a tiny town near Cusco, Peru and later seeing a loan for a female borrower in that town who sold snacks from a cart on the square. I don’t remember seeing her, but when I saw the loan, it was fun to be able to visualize the town and her location.

Tell us about a memorable profile you have reviewed.
I remember a young woman, I think from Ecuador, who was raising chickens to get money to pay her medical school tuition. I was so impressed with her setting such a high goal and working so hard and so humbly to achieve it. Then just last week, I translated a loan for a man in his 60s who had started up a grocery store in his home because, as he was quoted in his profile, “at my age, the doors of work are closed to me.”  The next night I watched news interviews in the U.S., where laid-off workers in their 50s and 60s talked about their difficulties in finding work. It made me realize how some situations are the same no matter where we live or what our occupations are.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?
I don’t really have a favorite place. I like to say that I’m an opportunistic traveler – I would go almost anywhere given the opportunity. However, I always enjoy Central and South America, especially as a getaway during a Minnesota winter. I’ll be traveling to Malaysia later this year, and I’m really looking forward to that, as I love being in the tropics and I haven't been to that part of the world.

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.
My other passion (besides studying Spanish) is horticulture and gardening. I love gardening, and I grow vegetables and flowers and have landscaped our home. Gardening is fascinating because there is always something new to learn – there’s always some new plant with its own particular requirements and characteristics to “discover.” Gardening is also the focus of my other major volunteer activity. I’m a Master Gardener, which means I’m part of a volunteer program associated with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Our goal is to provide university-researched information to the public on good gardening practices. We do lots of question-and-answer sessions by telephone or in public forums such as farmers’ markets, and we teach classes on gardening in libraries, schools, and for local groups. I’ve just finished coordinating a five-week program where we taught vegetable gardening to city residents with little or no experience.

Want to become a Kiva volunteer and work with other inspired translators and reviewers like Pam? Go to kiva.org/volunteer for more information and to apply!

About the author

Nida Jafri

Nida Jafri was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. After completing her Bachelors in Economics and International Relations from the University of Sussex, England in 2008, she returned home and joined the banking sector where she worked for the product development team for debit cards and mobile banking. It was there that her interest in attempting to reach the unbanked segment developed. After completing two years in the corporate world, she pursued her passion of teaching high school students, Development Studies and Sociology. Her life in the last two months has drastically changed, leaving family behind, getting married and moving to an absolutely new country. Living in the lovely city of San Francisco has been an adventure bringing her the good fortune of coming closer to her goal of working for global economic development, by becoming a Kiva intern first working for 6 months with the Global Partnerships Team and now working for another 6 months with the Review and Translation Team. In these few months she has been on a path of self- discovery taking a fond interest in cooking, baking, salsa lessons, running and playing soccer.