Eight years ago, Kiva was founded in October 2005, and ever since, we’ve considered October to be the organization's birthday. This year, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate the connections our lenders are making with borrowers around the world. So we asked our community one simple question: “What made you connect with a borrower on Kiva?” We received an amazing number of responses filled with truly heartwarming and inspiring stories. 
We’ll be featuring two of these stories every day through Thursday of this week. And today, one lender shares her stories about finding borrower connections through cooking.
Be sure to also read the lender stories from day 1 and day 2 of this blog series.

Kiva lender

The First Loan

I will never forget the day I “met” my first borrower. It was almost four and a half years ago -- the day I met Kiva as well. I had just finished reading Nobel Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus’ book on microcredit, and I was discussing it with a colleague of mine when he mentioned Kiva and forwarded me a link to Kiva’s website. I was immediately fascinated and subscribed that same day, eager to be part of a project that was finally doing something tangible to help the development of poor economies and change people’s lives the world over.

I was surfing the “Lend” page when my attention was caught by a baker from Tajikistan named Jura. I chose him without a second thought, liking his loan because of the many connections he coincidentally involuntarily shared with my family.

He was a baker, and bread in my family means care: a welcoming symbol on the family dining table. He baked “lepeshka,” a Tajikistani traditional type of bread, and traditions are very important in my family. And he was father to a large family -- I come from a large family whose eldest members have lived through World War II thanks to the support they also received from complete strangers.

Jura operates a business baking "lepeshka" -- the natual bread of Tajikistan.

Thanks to Jura, I have come into contact with what I believe is Kiva’s greatest success: Kiva helps us connect with other individuals whose stories are so similar to what happens at all latitudes that one wonders at how is it still possible for some people to deny that all humans are equal.

And as I hit the “lend” button, I knew this was going to be the first of many loans that I would finance.

Sara's Kitchen

Sara is a Mexican woman whose loan I came across while volunteer translating a batch of loans for Kiva. I then decided to lend some money to her, not only because of the loan per se, but also because of the kitchen she had been photographed in. The furniture, the tasty ingredients and the smile on her face reminded me of my grandmother’s kitchen; a warm and cozy place I spent my childhood.

It struck me how similar the two rooms were, and the joy Sara was clearly feeling standing close to her cooking table was the same I had seen so many times on my grandmother’s and my grand-aunt’s faces while growing up. Cooking is very important in my family, not so much because we are Italians, but mostly because we express our mutual love through cooking. By the look on Sara’s face in that loan picture, I could swear she felt the same.

Sara requested a loan to invest in new equipment for her cooking business.

The kitchen is a special place for me, and it's my favorite place in the house to this day. It brings back loving memories of smiling faces, secrets revealed over a recipe, and endless discussions, all mixed with the fresh smell of raw ingredients and the rich, gratifying aroma of tasty food.

Sara’s kitchen meant all the above; her surroundings a proof of love and care, her smile a promise of good food and good company to enjoy.

Cooking and feeding are two ways of giving and preserving life while welcoming whoever comes to our table. So I hit the “lend” button because I cannot resist lending to those activities or people who set their minds and skills at welcoming others, improving other people’s lives as well as their own. Yes, Sara does fit the profile.

About the author

Amrita Khoshoo

Amrita recently graduated from UC Irvine as a double major in History and Global Cultures. Throughout college, she was incredibly lucky to have volunteered, interned, and studied abroad. She volunteered and interned in India and China over the course of three summers and studied abroad in Spain her junior year. Amrita loves learning about the world, and learning how to help the world is no exception. She is thrilled to be joining an organization that uses innovative and sustainable methods to empower individuals and communities worldwide.