By Shirley Fong, KF12, Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea, Cambodia
I’ve made it through my first week here in Cambodia, and so far it has been amazing! I still get the occasional, “Why are you doing this?” question from curious friends and family back at home, and my answer to them is “Why not?” My decision to become a Kiva fellow was easy; I wanted to gain hands on experience in microfinance. Yesterday, I went out to the field for the first time to meet the borrowers. I was thoroughly humbled and inspired by the people I met and the stories that they had to tell. I am even more confident now that I have made the right choice coming to Cambodia. This isn’t just an opportunity for me to learn something new, but more importantly a chance to make a difference and help enrich the lives of others less fortunate.
Upon interviewing each borrower I learned how important these loans are to them. A lot of the borrowers are farmers and are subject to the volatility of the seasons and their harvest. For these people, taking out a loan could mean something as basic as having enough money to feed their families. The borrowers I met were from the Kouk Romeat Village in the Kandal province of Cambodia. The people from this village depend on farming morning glory as their main source of income (all six borrowers I met yesterday grew, harvested, or sold morning glory!).
Due to the inconsistency of crop cycles during bad seasons the farmers have to depend on loans for basic necessities such as food and shelter. One of the borrowers I met yesterday used his loan to purchase electrical supplies for his villagers. They now have electricity in their homes!
Others take the loans to provide their children with the proper education that they were unable to receive themselves – this is especially true for Mrs. Nhoem Tuch, a 43-year-old widow and a morning glory farmer.
Mrs. Nhoem Tuch has a 20-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter. She also looks after her 12-year old nephew who is an orphan; both his parents had passed away when he was born and Mrs. Nhoem Tuch has been his guardian since. In 2008, she was able to acquire a loan which helped her pay for her children’s education. Without the loan this would have never happened.
Imagine this, every time you make a $25 loan on Kiva, you are not merely funding one’s business, but you are funding their livelihood and hopes. A little goes a very long way! Lend today on Kiva.org.