Jeremy Lapedis, KF9, Guatemala
On Wednesday I traveled with Aura, a loan officer. My main goal was to get some signatures from Kiva borrowers so that we could use their photos in a press release. What I ended up getting, along with the signatures, was a glimpse into Aura’s life
Since getting the signatures required us to go a little village called Cruz Blanca (White Cross), where Aura’s lives, I asked if I could see her house. She in turn suggested that we just eat lunch there. Her house had several rooms, but the floor was a base of concrete. Aura shared her cluttered house with her mother, her two brothers, and her daughter. Comparing this to the clean and comfortable casa where I have been staying, with the director of my MFI, showed the disparity that exists within people who work for the same organization. It seemed the loan officer lived in the same conditions as Kiva entrepreneurs. And sure enough, this is how Aura became a loan officer: She got a loan from FAPE, paid it back, and they were looking for someone to work in her area, so she took the job.
Her mother happened to be a Kiva entrepreneur. So I did a journal update on her, taking a video of her explaining to me how she made the very colorful, very beautiful artisanal cloths. While filming, Aura’s four-year-old daughter, and four-year-old niece looked in awe.'
After being done with the interview, Aura and I took a walk down the street. We stopped at her Aunt’s store, and her cousin’s house. I found out that everyone who lived on the block was her relative. Here was a town, of no more than four streets, and a quarter of the people who lived here were related to Aura. People like her don’t like to go far from their family, or maybe it’s because they can’t.
Waiting for her mother to finish cooking, I entertained the two four-year-olds, while Aura got some paperwork done. Kids are fun, not matter what language. I made them pretend to be their favorite animals (a hippo and a tiger), and pretend to war with each other. I sat on the couch for about 45 minutes, while the girls wore themselves out. These children were amazingly good at entertaining themselves.
For lunch, I was served some amazing stew called pepian We ate it with tortillas. After lunch, we had to sneak away from her daughter, who would have cried if she had seen Aura leave. It’s kinda of crazy what you find when you’re not exactly looking for it. But it’s nice to have the flexibility to explore the path of the unexpected when it comes along. These opportunities are often there; all you have to do is ask.
To support entrepreneurs like Aura’s mother, lend on Kiva.
Jeremy is a current about halfway through his fellowship. at FAPE, in Guatemala City. He has been continuously happy how welcoming and sharing everyone has been in Guatemala. He can’t wait for the next half of the fellowship.