by Cissy DeLuca, KF8, Indonesia

This past week is my last week working at TLM in West Timor. TLM is also partnered with Opportunity International (OI) Australia, which is their primary source of funding. To promote this relationship, TLM often hosts “Insight Trips,” which allow supporters of OI to pay a fee to visit a partner MFI of their choice. These trips promote donor understanding and create the potential for them to further contribute to the work of the MFI.

TLM staff members introducing the Australian guests to a client

TLM staff members introducing the Australian guests to a client

Eight Australians arrived this past Monday to be toured around to visit clients, see the office, meet the staff and gain an insider perspective on microfinance and TLM. Upon hearing I was working on behalf of Kiva, an instant fan club materialized right before my eyes. They wanted to know everything they possibly could about Kiva and their partnership with TLM. Some had heard of it, while others had not. This resulted in me hosting an impromptu training session at my desk on how to use the Kiva website.  One of the Australians had even googled “TLM” and “Microfinance” prior to the trip and stumbled upon the fellows blog and a video I had made! He had known of the existence of a “Cissy” at TLM before he even arrived… I am a minor celebrity!

After 11 weeks at TLM and with a minor case of the volunteer blues, this was a nice way to revive my enthusiasm for Kiva. It helped me remember why I came here and why I love Kiva so much. The enthusiasm people feel when they are first exposed to Kiva makes me proud to be a part of it all. Working within the contexts of a foreign culture where things sometimes move slower than you hope can leave you slightly jaded and forgetful of the big picture. As I transition from Kiva Fellow to freelance ambassador of Kiva, I look forward to appreciating Kiva as just a lender again. This contact with microfinance enthusiasts, and now Kiva enthusiasts, has been the perfect way to start my transition.

Shanty, me, Vience... Kiva girls!

Shanty, me, Vience... Kiva girls!

On a completely unrelated note, I met the coolest entrepreneur EVER today. Unfortunately, this man was not posted on Kiva, but he is a TLM client. This man has started a business fashioning chairs, tables, pots and bowls out of old tires!

Tire chairs.. resourceful and comfortable!

Tire chairs.. resourceful and comfortable!

Showing us his handiwork with tires!

Showing us his handiwork with tires!

Cissy DeLuca is just finishing up her time with Tanaoba Lais Manekat (TLM) in Kupang, West Timor. Please join their lending team to receive monthly updates from the Kiva Coordinator about fund-raising loans and happenings at TLM. You can also follow TLM on twitter!

Thank you to all the loyal readers of the Kiva Fellows Blog for your kind comments along the way!

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