Featured Volunteer: Sherry Bess finds inspiration in translating for Kiva borrowers

“I volunteer because Kiva helped me get up every day with a purpose during a trying time in my life, and allowed me to use my Spanish skills to help others.”

About Sherry

City: Valencia, Spain

Language: Spanish

Team: Spanish Team 8

Volunteer time: 2 years

Outstanding Contributions to Kiva: Sherry has been a Kiva lender for three years, and in the past two years as a volunteer, she has translated over 2,300 loans!


Kiva: How did you find out about Kiva?
Sherry: I learned about Kiva from my best friend in Spain. She was so enthusiastic about this great way of lending to entrepreneurs all over the world and suggested that I take a look at Kiva’s website. I've been hooked ever since.

Why did you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?
Kiva was a big help to me during a trying time in my life. After losing my husband to illness, I went through a period of instability with my employment situation, which led to early retirement. Retirement at such an early age was a little frightening because I had worked my entire life. When I translate, I feel like my Spanish skills are really helping people and I feel thankful to Kiva for making this possible.

What is your favorite partner or region to translate for?
Latin America is my favorite region and I feel fortunate to be able to learn new Spanish vocabulary through loans that I translate from that area. Language is so alive and ever-changing, that even if you learn a new word one day, there's bound to be a new way to say it the next. I truly enjoy getting a glimpse into the lives of people all over Latin America.

Tell us about a memorable profile you have encountered.
I remember a profile about a 36-year-old woman in Peru who had been knitting and selling wool jackets since she was six years old. She worked from home in order to be able to take care of her husband and two daughters, and was even able to get into the overseas market because of the quality of her goods. The perseverance of people like her, who can turn their craft into a valid source of income, is very inspiring to me.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?
Spain captured my heart many, many years ago and still does. I have been lucky enough to see most of the country, but there is always some remote spot where one can take a tour of a winery, or be in total awe of a gothic cathedral. Beautiful beaches, sun-filled days, delicious food and great wines are all here, so where else would I want to go?

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.
I don't think singing in a choir is anything unusual, but I do find it surprising that music has become one of the most important things in my life. I am a member of a local, amateur choir in Valencia and our repertoire runs all over the list of music genres. In addition to our regular performances throughout the year, we are also invited to sing with professionals every now and then. 

Want to volunteer for Kiva? Go to kiva.org/volunteer.

Photo provided by Sherry Bess.

About the author

Katie Miura

Katie was born and raised in Hawaii, which explains her affinity for being outside whenever the sun peeks out in her foggy neighborhood, and for all things made with Spam. Her undergraduate studies in Japanese at the University of Hawaii took her to a rural town in northern Japan, where she taught English for two years. It was there that she had a chance to work with a disaster relief organization after the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami, and met hundreds of international volunteers who inspired her to pursue a career in the non-profit field. She is excited to join the Review and Translation Program team and is looking forward to supporting the volunteer editors and translators who donate their time and skills to Kiva.