Since arriving in the Philippines in early November, just in time for the holiday season, I have been to my fair share of parties. None of them, however, quite compare to the event I attended this past weekend in Cauayan, as the Project Dungganon 1 branch office here celebrated its 21st annual Foundation Day 2.

The festivities kicked off with a Catholic Mass at 8.30 AM, and continued until 3.30 pm in the afternoon. The event was like no other – a hybrid of a party/annual meeting/talent show for all client-members of the Cauayan branch. NWTF’s directors travelled to Cauayan to take part in the celebration – sharing words of inspiration, and awarding certificates to members for outstanding leadership and loyalty. Raffles were drawn at random points during the day giving clients the chance to win prizes ranging from tupperware to a TV. And perhaps the most enjoyable part of the day for many was the launch of “Dungganon Star”, a dancing/singing talent search that will take place at all branch foundation days in 2011.

Throughout my Kiva Fellowship, it has become abundantly clear to me that microfinance institutions are more than ‘just a bank’ – from the services they provide to the communities they create. At this Foundation Day, the depth of the community that Project Dungganon has created was on display, as borrowers cheered each other on in games, represented their centers3 in the talent contest, and celebrated with award winners in their success.

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1 Project Dungganon is the main microfinance arm of the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) based in the Philippines

2 A celebration held by each branch office to commemorate the day it was established.

3 A center is a group of ~50 women who meet together weekly with their loan officer. Centers are composed of ~10 groups of ~5 women each.

Joanne Gan is having an amazing time visiting the branches of Project Dungganon, as she works with Kiva partner, the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, in the Philippines. To learn more about becoming a Kiva Fellow, click here.


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