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It’s funny how death makes a person keenly aware of their responsibilities. You think about all the wrongs you  need to right, the people with whom you need to make amends, and the debts you need to repay. You’re lucky if you’ve never faced death. If you live in a developed country like the United States, things like tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases and stomach cancer don’t make it on the list of top 10 leading causes of death in your country.  But if you live in a developing country like Vietnam, your fate is different. I recently met a Kiva borrower who was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The 6-month survival rate of stomach cancer patients diagnosed in its later stages is less than 15%.

Despite her recent surgery, Pham Thi Dieu, continues her daily life in Dong Anh Province, just outside of Hanoi, Vietnam in defiance of her stomach cancer. Dieu and her husband continue to work in a family member’s construction business. Her husband does the labor, and she resells construction materials and handles the books.  The women in Dieu’s village support her and surround her with love and encouragement.  Because health is risky business in Vietnam, Dieu is realistic about her chances of survival, but “I still have to work to help my family, take care of my two boys…and besides, I still have 6 more months of repayment on my loan,” she states rather matter-of-factly.  I showed Dieu the photos of the 12 lender profiles on Kiva who were supporting her loan.  “Well, I have to get better now, don’t I? I owe a responsibility to these people as well.”

With Dieu’s permission, I share her story and the attached video as a reminder of the hope and connection you Kiva lenders give when you honor the lives and businesses of borrowers through the loans you make. You can also watch videos of the loan process in Vietnam and meet the different credit officers who make it happen by following these links.

By Lory Ishii, KF10, Vietnam

Lory is serving in Hanoi, Vietnam with Kiva Field Partner, Center of Small Enterprise Development Assistance (SEDA) as a member of the Kiva Fellows 10th class.  Please join SEDA’s lending team, make a loan to a SEDA entrepreneur or donate to Kiva today!

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