Danni cooking and preparing for her day's work

After venturing through hours of the greenest landscape over several hills, we finally made it to Borbon, a small city in Northern Ecuador.  Our mission was to find Danni - a Kiva borrower.  However, it wasn't as simple as one may think.  First, we had to climb down a hill into an area of several homes.  The loan officers forgot which direction her house was, so we asked a group of women where Danni was.  After several wrong turns, we were at last in the home of Danni.

When we walked in, we were greeted with a huge smile, along with the smell of heaven.  This was the smell of Danni's cooking as she was preparing for her day's work selling food on the streets.  Every day, she begins to cook in the early morning.  By 3pm, she is ready to take all of her home-made food, moveable stove, chairs and other supplies up to the main street to sell.  She has to carry each of these items up and down the steep hill every day.  

We conversed for about half an hour and she introduced me to her 2 children.  I found her to be an extremely passionate and hardworking woman.  After getting to know one another better, she finally gave me a sneak peek taste of her special sauce.  It was a flavor I had never tasted before - pure deliciousness to say the least.  I couldn't leave her home without knowing the special ingredients.  She eagerly gathered all of her ingredients and had me smell each one individually - lemon, oregano, chili sauce, garlic, celery, parsley, and 2 special herbs called chigarran and chiangua.  After the sauce is made, she sprinkles salt and then pours it on fried fish, shrimp, chicken, as well as other foods.  I thanked her tremendously for sharing her secret recipe with me.

Danni's Secret Ingredients!

I asked Danni her dreams for the future.  Not only would she like to own a bigger home to have more space for her children, but she would also like to have a roof for her business for when it rains, more chairs, and more gasoline for her stove.  I told her that all of this is feasible and I have no doubt that she will accomplish this and much more!

When I gave her the printout of her Kiva profile and showed her all of the people who invested in her, she immediately smiled.  She said that she was going to frame it and hang it right next to her other framed portaits.  I then asked her what she would like to say to all of her lenders, and she responded, "Thank you very much for your support and trust in me.  I hope that you are proud of the work that I am doing.  I only ask you to please don't close the door on me so that I can continue to move forward and offer my children a better future."  It was in that moment that I truly realized the importance of what Kiva is doing - giving people like Danni an opportunity that they wouldn't otherwise have.  

Not only did Danni reveal her secret recipe to her food with me, but more importantly, she also shared with me her recipe to her own success created by both her passion to succeed coupled with a helping hand from Kiva lenders.
Danni holding her Kiva Profile printout
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Very inspiring and well written. We are very proud of you!!!

Hi Danni, l am very proud to be one of your investors and supporters. Your story and your courage to improve the life of yourself and your children by working so hard is inspirational, l wish you all the luck and happiness in the world! Lots of love & best wishes from Australia.

Very nice article. Keep up the good work.

keep up the good work...under the conditions you endure you are a very strong woman...Ma

It has been an honor to help a mother trying to improve her life and therefore the lives of her children. I hope you succeed in all you do. All the best, from the USA!!

Good morning Danni! I woke up to your beautiful smile and letter of appreciation for all of those that have helped you through Kiva. They are a wonderful organization doing things for people around the world that local governments aren't able to do. I know that your roof, additional gasoline and more chairs will be within your reach soon. Your attitude, your strength, your perseverance will serve you and your children well. I am honored to be a donor for a woman who is determined and courageous to do what needs to be done for her and her children. Thank you for sharing your picture and thoughts.

Well done Danni. Really proud of you and happy to have supported you. Lot's of luck and God bless. Robert

What an honor to have even the smallest part in your efforts! Bless you with continued success in your business and your life.

I was one of your investors and I'm happy to see your success.

Congratulations Danni on such a tremendous venture. As another commented, it is truly an honor to be associated with you and your success. May you continue to reap rewards for you and your children from all of your very hard work.

Congratulations Danni on such a tremendous venture. As another commented, it is truly an honor to be associated with you and your success. May you continue to reap rewards for you and your children from all of your very hard work.

It is a great pleasure to support hard workers like you. I doubt I can find the last two of the herbs you use in New York City, but the sauce sounds wonderful even without them! Thank you, and good luck and blessings always.

Thank you Danni for allowing me to support such a hard working and dedicated mother. It's an honor to help someone who is striving so hard to improve the life of her family. And thank you Cassandra for traveling so far and bringing awareness of needs such as Danni's to Kiva users. You are an inspiration to me to work to improve lives near and far.

I was so happy to read about your success Danni and to see your smiling happy face again. I know that your dreams of a better future for your children as well as for yourself and your growing business will for sure come true. I hope that KIVA will support you in this so that I can once again contribute to your future.

Hi Danni, I'm so happy to meet you through Kiva. You are an amazing woman & it's such a pleasure to hear how well you're doing. I'm Amazed at how hard you work to support your family. You're an inspiration for all of us who want to help people like you who need a loan to keep their business strong & growing. It's a pleasure for me to hear your story & share it with others who want to help. I wish you continued success with your business & in improving your life each day.

You are doing good work for your family. You are a good mother. Thank you, I enjoyed receiving you note! Michael Long

Hi Danni, I, too. am happy to be one of your sponsors. I enjoyed reading your story and hearing about all you do for your family. I am glad that I can have a small role in helping you reach your dreams. After reading your story, I have a new dream, too. I hope to some day try some of your special sauce. It sounds delicious. Sending love your way.

It is wonderful to hear your story and see your smile.

It is wonderful to hear your story and see your smile.

Now, I need the amounts of each ingredient and what to substitute for the 2 herbs? and how to prepare the sauce?? We like great food

It is an honor to support you Danni. Thank you for sharing your story. The door will never close.

You should be very proud of your accomplishments, I am glad I could help just a little bit. I wish you great success. Daniele

Congratulations on your success, Danni! With your positive attitude and hard work you will continue to be attain your goals. Your sauce sounds delicious! I feel honored to have been a small part of providing your loan. God bless you and your children!

What a wonderful thank you! I am blessed to help others. Your smile says a thousand words. Continue your great work and teach the children.

Thank you for the wonderful story. It is very special to see such a lovely smile! I admire your hard work and am so happy that Kiva was able to help you. Thank you for reaching out to us.

Hi Kiva Lenders! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your comments so thank you for taking time to read my blog post and learning more about Danni. Throughout my time in Ecuador, Danni was by far one of my favorite borrowers that I met because of her lively personality (as you can tell by her smile) and eagerness to succeed and help her children. I am currently in Peru continuing my Kiva Fellowship, but I just emailed FODEMI about all of your comments to her blog post and asked them to share your comments with her. I am extremely confident that they will relay this message to her on your behalf. Thank you all again for your Kiva support. You are truly making a difference in the lives of many people, including Danni and her children.

I am so glad that I was able to help you. Congratulations on your success. It is my pleasure to continue to give Kiva support! All the very best always in all ways.

good blog

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Born and raised in New Jersey to immigrant parents from the Philippines, Cassandra grew up as a first generation American with the mentality that each person should have an opportunity to improve his or her life. Cassandra's desire for experiencing different cultures was sparked during a semester abroad in Spain. Since then, she has traveled to more than 20 countries and has no intent to stop. She received her BA in Accounting with minors in Spanish and Business Information Systems from Lehigh University. After graduation, she moved to New York City where she began her career in KPMG's Audit Financial Services practice. After an arduous first year, she decided to spend three weeks volunteering at a childcare facility in South Africa serving impoverished children, many of whom lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and violence. This experience propelled her to give back in her local community. She is a “Big Sister” to a child from the Dominican Republic and serves on a Manhattan high school advisory board that aims to help its immigrant student base realize their fullest potential and gain access to higher education. The combination of these life experiences sparked Cassandra’s interest in microfinance and international development. She strongly believes that access to basic financial services can transform the lives of individuals, as well as have a positive impact on the broader community. Cassandra is eager to apply the skills she has learned, along with her intense passion to help others while she works at microfinance institutions in both Ecuador and Peru.