Being a Kiva Fellow – My week with 5 LO and 100 Kiva borrowers – Part 2

By Aurelie Dagneaux, KF11, Ecuador

Thursday: The day where I break every KF safety rules

5am The day starts early to go and see clients with Jose Luis and Diego, the 2 Lon officers (LO) from Chillanes (meeting is at 10am, tells you how far it can be…). Because of heavy rains the previous days, road has transformed into mud and we cannot ride with motorcycle, that’s why we use the bus

7.30am Arrival in the nearest town and breakfast before another 1h ride

8am Jose Luis and Diego borrow 2 motorcycles (no other way to go and see clients). After 100m, one has to be fixed (brakes and motor…). The ride started without helmet, not that I did not ask for one, but no one had one…(break safety rule # 1)

8.30am Motorcycle fixed, back on the passenger seat. But after 150m, the handlebars of the motorcycle broke in 2… My first (and hopefully last) accident: Jose Luis loses control, we slide and fell, luckily with just a couple of bruises (break safety rules # 2)

8.45am Getting the motorcycle fixed again…And getting a helmet

10am We arrive just on time for the meeting with new clients Speech of LO about the importance of savings. Those people are  poorer, but far more positive than the ones I usually see everyday

12.30pm Lunch offered by community (chicken and rice)

1.15pm Stop en route to new meeting in a community of borrowers, who absolutely wants to show us their crops, so we get a tour of the fields (corn, cocoa, coffee, avocados, pineapples,…) and we get some for the road…

2pm Meeting with clients for profiles (their second loan with the MFI but first time on Kiva…) My first borrowers without electricity and water. When the LO says bringing the most recent invoice is a pre requisite for a new loan (to ensure they do live where they say), the guy says “what if you do not have electricity nor water?”. The LO is puzzled but replies “Just bring that of your neighbor”

4.30pm 3h bus for a new office: Ventanas (the poorest and most dangerous area of Ecuador (that I will learn only a few days after…)

7.30pm In my hotel room, writing profiles in English so that they get posted faster on Kiva (no translation delay)

Friday: My first real encounter with destitution and despair

8am Training of new LO, Alfredo, on Kiva procedures in Ventanas. The MFI just decided to add that office to Kiva operations.
Interview 20 clients facing hard conditions and real poverty.
As I could see yesterday on the road, their houses are made of wood and electricity and water are options.

A client asks for her cousin loan to be disbursed in her absence, as her 2 sons are in hospital and the mom is with them, so not there to get the money. The grandma starts crying and begging me for help, as the LO says he cannot do that. I am so glad I am not in his position, as they all start asking him for some pity and humanity…(he will finally not disburse it without the borrower presence)

12pm Call with William and Karine, Kiva Coordinators, in main office on fundraising of the week and goals to reach the target

1pm Writing profiles of the day

3pm Send problems of the week to the South America field support specialist, Cynthia, who is extremely reactive and usually fix them in a couple of hours

4pm Sitting in a bus, reflecting upon my week. My full body aches from the hours I spent on the back of motorcycles, but that´s worth it for the precious moments shared with borrowers about their life and dreams.

Reflecting upon LO job. I’d like to pay a tribute here to San Jose loan officers. To me, they are the hidden heroes of Kiva backstage. You have no idea how hard their job can be to deliver those interviews, that will turn into profiles and updates. Knowing names of each of their 500 clients, going to the field everyday, spending hours on bad roads and mud…There are our relays on the field and a key part of Kiva job.

Now, I’m off to the beach for a well deserved break, surfing  and paragliding.

The show begins again on Monday at 8am. I can relax until then, I did my part of the job and thanks to LO and Kiva Coordinators, we have several borrowers currently fundraising on Kiva. Now it’s your job to help those borrowers. Make a loan to San Jose’s clients!

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