By Dennis A. Espinoza, KF9 Cameroon

Saludos Kiva Community –

My name is Dennis Espinoza and in a few hours I will be leaving for Africa to serve with GHAPE, a longstanding Kiva partner based in Cameroon.

Before I kickoff the 25 hour trip from Chicago, USA to Bamenda, Cameroon, a personal note about the reason I’m on this journey and what I selfishly hope to get from it….you know, beyond just a great way to meet great likeminded people, i.e. cute ladies (which it is for those of you who are considering applying to the program!).

While she lived independently for about half of her life in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Chicago, my late grandmother would’ve been difficult to distinguish from many of the entrepreneurs Kiva helps today.  As a young mother she was driven, passionate, ambitious and poor.   Though she never considered herself to be impoverished, my grandmother developed wisdom through lessons, accomplishments and failures she and my grandfather experienced by overcoming poverty.  “Ahorre sus centavitos para poder contribuir cuando sea necesario” she’d often tell me, which essentially means, save wisely in order to contribute when called upon.  This principle, beyond an important basis for our financial decisions and the reason I became a Kiva lender, drills down to the basis of a community.  Giving and receiving connects people.  Kiva makes that happen.  We can all contribute.  We are all in need.

So, in addition to sharing the stories of how borrowers in Cameroon are doing, my personal mission on this trek is to learn about how you and I would benefit from a Kiva entrepreneur’s progress if we lived down the road.  What would a Kiva entrepreneur give you if you were in dire need?  a loan?  a ride?  a laugh? a meal? nothing?  We are firefighters, consultants and teachers as well as Kiva members / lenders.  What other roles do these borrowers serve?  What “secondary” contributions to a community are you enabling as a result of empowering someone through your loan?  Inspired by my grandparents, friends, conversations with Kiva Fellows and their posts on this blog, I’d like to explore how a borrower could literally meet your needs once able to do so.  As I do, I look forward to sharing the laughs, hopefully not many tears, and the overall experience with all of you.

I’m honored to play my part in building Kiva’s connections while out in the field and I truly hope your contribution through lending provides you with a similarly privileged feeling as a very important member of this community.

Con carino,

Dennis A. Espinoza is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow with GHAPE in Bamenda, Cameroon.

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