Guard dogs, long hikes and broken-down motos are just a few of the obstacles we face on our hunt to track down new Kiva borrowers.
Along with my trustee co-pilot/loan officer/BFF, Juan Carlos, we’ve managed to catch up with 28 new borrowers this month, and the quest to do-so has been nothing short of an adventure.
In the majority of cases, we’re given a hand-drawn map at the ADICLA headquarters, marked with a few points of interests and accompanied by the customary “you can’t miss it.”
From there, we set off into the countryide and neighboring villages of Sololá with a mission to shake hands and deliver opportunity.
We’re able to zoom in on our financial targets through a pinball-like strategy of asking one neighbor after another until a name sticks with somebody. It’s a numbers game, but we always find a match (eventually).
The paths we take often turn into winding sidewalks, between and through homes, fields and workshops, so we count on the fact that people of the Guatemalan countryside know their neighbors by name within a few mile radius.
The things we don’t often factor in along our journey however, are what make this glorified scavenger hunt so exciting.
Last week alone , we were chased off a property by three protective guard dogs, hiked 45-minutes up a terrace farm in the pouring rain and had to repair Juan Carlos’ moto four times in two hours because apparently the chain isn’t fit for a 200 lbs gringo.
These are the moments that make our meetings so special.
The opportunity I have to visit borrowers, in their natural surroundings, in what may seem like the most remote of locations, has no doubt been the highlight of this fellowship.
From fabric weavers and mecanics, to grocery store clerks and onion farmers, once we make it through the obstacle course that is the actual arrival, we’re always met with open arms and big smiles.
Sometimes I think their smiles come from us being there and other times I think it just makes them happy knowing what we went through to find them.
Here are a few more visual highlights of our conquests thus far…