By Eva Wu, KF9 Philippines
I experienced a lot of firsts during my week in the field visiting HSPFI‘s Camiguin Branch. Some good, some intense, all of it exciting. Amongst all these firsts, I’m convinced that I witnessed on Camiguin Island both the most beautiful and the most bizarre client interviews that I’ll get to conduct while here in the Philippines. This post is about the former – check out the latter at “The Most Bizarre Client Interview (Part 2 of 2)“!
A bit of background on Camiguin – I had been excited about this outing for quite a while, because all of my HSPFI co-workers kept telling me about this “island of paradise” that has hot and cold springs; a walkway through an old inactive volcano with stations of the cross that Filipinos from all over visit during Lent; the sweetest lanzones in the Philippines; a sunken cemetery.
Corroi (HSPFI’s Kiva Coordinator) and I spent most of the week trekking around with the project officers and interviewing clients, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can visit Camiguin again and spend more time touring some of the spots. Corroi and the Camiguin Branch staff were very thoughtful though in arranging the schedule – Wednesday turned out to be a work+fun day when we visited a bunch of HSPFI clients who ran souvenir shops, transport services, etc. at popular tourist spots. So we also got to check out some of the sights in between interviews.
At the sunken cemetery we found a HSPFI client who rows tourists over to the base of the massive cross marker. Corroi has an artist’s eye for picking out good backdrops for client interviews – she’s amazingly astute at this – and suggested that we do the interview in the boat while the client was rowing us over! So we did. It was a gorgeous day – bright sunlight, blue skies, aquamarine seas, and something undeniably romantic in the atmosphere – as there should be at this old cemetery, sunk beneath the waves because of a volcano eruption. We lingered beneath the giant cross and listened as the client told us about his business and his family. He runs multiple businesses to support his three children and their education while his wife is working overseas. The hardships that the client described contrasted with the beauty of the day and took my breath away.
After I came back to HSPFI’s head office in Cagayan de Oro I was disappointed to discover that this particular HSPFI client wasn’t posted on Kiva, so I can’t share the actual interview here despite building this entire post around how wonderful it was. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet this ambitious client and hear his story. He plans to purchase another boat so he can run more tours and catch more fish.
I’m proud to be working for an MFI that supports individuals like him, and I feel privileged to have found such grace on Camiguin Island. Standing beneath a memorial to the dead, I heard a living testimony to the strength of the human spirit.
Eva Wu is a proud member of KF9, and she’s still head over heels in love with the Philippines and her host MFI, Hagdan sa Pag-uswag Foundation, Inc.! Support HSPFI by lending or by joining the HSPFI lending team today!/>