By Megan Bond, KF15, Ecuador
Yesterday, as I left the office of FODEMI for the final time I felt as if I could not find the words to describe what I was feeling. Both the English and the Spanish languages had failed to provide me with a word that could capture the feeling of happiness and sadness that coexisted rather uncomfortably. There have been some serious ups-and-downs in my summer as a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador. I felt inspired and happy when I met some incredible Kiva borrowers, including an entrepreneur that I had helped fund. But, at other times, I felt frustrated or homesick or like an outsider in the organization and in life in this new country. Sometimes these opposite emotions happened in closer proximity that I’d like to admit. Yet, as I walked down the sidewalk in Ibarra, I wondered about these feelings and struggled to come to terms with how I felt. Was I happy? Yes. Was I sad? Yes!
I must turn to another South American nation to describe the feeling I have about leaving what has become my home and the people who have become my family in Ecuador. Brazilians have a word that aptly sums of my life right now: saudade. Saudade encompasses a somewhat sad feeling of incompleteness, especially when moving away from a place or thing. Some people say the word saudade also extends to feeling happy and sad at the same time. That’s exactly where I am right now.
Wonderful people have come into my life this summer more so than any other extended stay I’ve had in a foreign country. I left behind host parents in Spain, a host family in Mexico, and a village full of neighbors and friends in Peru and Bolivia yet my feeling of saudade has never been this powerful. It was the connection to the much larger world of microfinance on the Kiva network. It was the connection with the community of Kiva lenders. Most of all, it comes from knowing that Kiva is all about connections. Lending is connecting. Now as I transition from my life as Kiva Fellow back to my life as Kiva lender, these connections will remain clear. Although I still may be going through the mixture of emotions that mark the end of this journey. As the Kiva Fellows Program’s 15th class comes to the end of their time in the field, this same feeling of saudade may be felt from Ecuador to Uganda to the Phillipines but, as always, we’re connected.
Megan Bond is Kiva Fellow working with the new partner FODEMI in northern Ecuador. For more information on FODEMI, visit FODEMI’s partner page or English website. If you would like to support FODEMI and its borrowers, please join its lending team. If you feel so inclined, check out our currently fundraising loans!