As a Kiva Fellow, each field visit to meet Kiva’s borrowers feels like an exciting, new experience! I compare it to reading a new book each time; and instead of starting at the beginning, you get to read the last page first. Today, I had the pleasure of visiting one of Kiva’s borrowers “Señora Carmen” at her farm in the idyllic Urquillos village in the Sacred Valley to see how her Kiva story turned out.
We arrived at noon to meet with her, and were welcomed into a huge 15th Century Colonial House they called “The White House” or “Loaizayoc.” We meet Carmen, with her business partner & home owner, Diana. The house itself is full of mysteries: there are stories of unicorns and ghosts. The scariest 18th century story that persists is of a young boy whose spirit is often encountered on the streets until this day. His painting hung in the house’s living room.
As soon as we entered, they drew us into an extensive tour of their farm. They introduced me to a wide variety of herbs, vegetable plantations, guinea pigs, ducks, varied flower varieties and trees. It was enchanting to hear Carmen and Diana talk with such passion of each of their plantations & they even offered traditional Peruvian/Andean recipes for each of their vegetables. Some of their flower varieties include: Gladiolas, Astromelias and Ortensiales. Diana & Carmen are constantly working on making their produce better and their farm more effective. With their Kiva loan, they can buy all the latest fertilizers and seeds to develop unused and fertile parts of the farm.
As they serve us some fresh organic meal, picked out from their farm - potatoes, boiled eggs, chicha or the traditional black corn drink in Peru and "tuna" or cactus pear; they talk about their communal bank at Kiva's Field Partner Arariwa. Carmen is the president of her communal bank, it's called “Virgen Carmen de Urquillos.” As president of the group, she organizes interesting events with her group members: they always contribute 5 soles to share a meal together during every meeting; they play Secret Santa every year & when somebody defaults, they go together as a group to find the defaulting member at their home & talk them into paying, for the sake of the group. Arariwa’s loan officers facilitate the communication among these groups, and this group has successfully paid off their loans over the last 3 years.
If you are touched by the generosity & determination of Kiva's borrowers like Carmen, feel free to lend for Asociacion Arariwa on www.kiva.org.