By Suzy Marinkovich, KF8 Peru & KF9 Bolivia
Twisted twining vining metal unrhythmic untamed unkempt and in comes the dust sweat and sticking to me tires thumping each rock unsettled plastic bag squeezed empty tossed out the window just a drop of papaya juice leaps back clings to the dirty car door parting from the white stretch of plastic mangling on wire scraps whose posture, never organized nor structured nor retreating but insistingly unfinished uncared for undone and meters behind she rests her worn hand with dirty fingernails on the back of her velvet skirt, flicks her foot backwards knocks a stone out of her rubber sandals, presses forward to check the corn, pounding sun hits a thirst for chicha it must be the corn that reminds, wander on to the cement stable over the manure dried and dusty walking cautious to storage bright orange plastic bucket brought in the kitchen, drink in the cup take a sip after first a splash on the soil, thank you Pachamama for the gifts you give. On Sunday on to the feria de ganado new ternera baby cow more milk, burning expense but its California cow genes worth their weight in silver the promise of more milk more money versus more mouths to feed its always tiresome, the more and more. Our needs don’t stop she thinks our needs increase I need to provide I’m in demand, must keep milking the cows keep working. Flash of heat and so dizzy, still the morning she feels the baby kick, stops to smile only for a flicker in a rare moment blinks and next. She must toil forward labor on work more press harder no rest no stopping I hope my baby is okay her heart thumps she lost the last two, tried to be cautious but what part of her day strains the baby the most, either way she must labor on toil forward no time unused the love is there no she cant dream just hope her child hangs on hope he is a boy whose hands can work on the farm as she slows, the latest loan for the latest cow and the latest payment for the latest month why let herself dream of getting a milking machine she knows her husband wont no not until who knows it isn’t going to happen why dream when dreams are small and the smallest thing swimming in your belly is struggling to survive in your overworked body, its hard to give when you never got the chance to take, its hard to take when no one offers you money and no one trusts you. the loan feels freeing but chaining but straining to pay each month the interest where did these people come from. what will you do for me I don’t have identification I don’t own a home I don’t know how to read the paperwork, what will you do if I cant pay what will you do to me. But Im not going to lose this baby I cant bear another loss I cant work and lose and work and lose. Why do you trust me I cant even care for the child growing in me, why do you give me a chance why do you believe in me, never finished grade school I can hardly write its been so many years since I’ve had the need, why are you trusting me to repay you why are you giving me the chance. Why are you smiling at me, why are you here, why are you believing in me. Why are you giving. Letting me do this. I’ve no capital to my name nor education just working hands and mouths to feed, I have responsibilities but no way to care for them, no one believes I’m worth a dime but you do, you just appeared here, even with our impassible road. Where did you come from, just please stay for dinner I am making chicken you are like family now please, only family could trust someone so much, you are giving me a chance please take my food, why do you loan to me I just want to suspect you but your smile your papers it feels real that you care, this isn’t my reality this isn’t even the hand of cards I was dealt. I feel worthless now empowered once selfless and given the chance to be selfish. Her mind flickers again for a brief moment that milking machine could be possible someday it really could let me just talk it over with my husband then he kicks again in my belly we are going to make it mom, we are going to make it together sign the paper, they are believing in you like I believe in you and its real.
Since I started with CIDRE this September, a brand new Kiva partner in Bolivia, I have watched this remarkable microfinance institution use the new funding from Kiva to venture into more rural and inaccesible areas. I have helped — quite literally — get out of the car and clear the brush so that CIDRE’s car could get through washed out roads in unfamiliar territory. I have sat in on several dairy cooperative meetings out in these areas, where CIDRE’s loan officers speak in Quechua about all CIDRE can offer the farmers. I am truly honored to work with the incredible organization that is Kiva, because say what you might about its flaws, I have personally seen how the river of loans from Kiva lenders leads to reaching new areas untouched by the financial system. I am humbled to have had the chance to meet these newest borrowers, and I can’t thank Kiva lenders enough for allowing our MFI partners to push frontiers and cross into the lives or the worlds’ most rural poor.
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Suzy Marinkovich is a Kiva Fellow at CIDRE in Bolivia, the second of her three placements. She has a wholehearted passion for microfinance, social justice, and poverty alleviation. Suzy is most excited to listen to the incredible stories of Kiva borrowers in South America and let them know how much they continually inspire us all./>