Aug 26, 2013 KV Kiva HQ
By Janessa Van Vechten
Featured Volunteer: Amy L. brings precision and dedication to a new level


Kiva has come up with a respectful way to offer help…Kiva’s model says that people in developing countries are capable of creating their own prosperity...

City: Pheonix, Arizona
Language: English
Team: Loan On Me
Time with Kiva: 10 months

Outstanding contributions to Kiva:
After 10 months as a volunteer editor with Kiva, Amy has reviewed over 3,000 loans! She is an extremely conscientious editor with an eye for detail, and is always up for sharing her valuable insights on the Forum. Not only an incredible resource for her own editing team, she is also a remarkable asset to the Kiva team as a whole.

Here’s a short Q&A with this dedicated volunteer:

How did you find out about Kiva?
I went on a hiking trip to Copper Canyon, in Mexico, several years ago.  There were a few trip staff whose homes were at the rim of the canyon, who came along with us.  One was the cook, and the others wrangled the burros that carried our tents and other gear. Those were some of the hardest-working people I ever met.  One of them, Jilo, invited us to visit his home at the end of the trip, and I got to see a house being built in "stages," like so many that we see on the Kiva site.  Jilo was also a farmer, and I learned that he was plowing his fields with a hand plow, pulled by a horse! After that trip to Mexico, I always had in my mind that there seemed to be no good reason why my Mexican friends should be so much poorer than we are in the US, because they are such hard-working people.  I kept looking for information on how to help them develop their economy.  I got fast wireless Internet in 2009, and I found Kiva while looking for ways to help people in Mexico.

Why did you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?
Kiva has come up with a respectful way to offer help, especially compared to the old model of charity. Kiva’s model says that people in developing countries are capable of creating their own prosperity with just a little bit of capital. The fact that I can edit loans one or a few at a time makes it really easy.

What is your favorite partner or region?
As a lender, I like Latin America. I like Pro Mujer Bolivia and Fundación Paraguaya, and then there are two new partners in Mexico that I really like-- Sistema Biobolsa and the Huatusco Coffee Growers Co-op. As an editor, I think it’s more fun to edit loans that are written individually, but I don’t mind editing templates because I know it saves time for partners.

Tell us about a memorable profile you have reviewed.
I was really impressed with Kefa from Kenya because he transports passengers on a bicycle and I thought that sounded incredibly hard! His loan was for buying a water tank for his family of five people, which impressed me because he put the purchase of the water tank before his desire to buy a new motorbike. I also generally like water tank loans because the more you’re on Kiva the more you notice that there are a lot of people trying to deal with water shortages, especially in Kenya. This might be partly because of global warming and I feel like I am, at least partially, a contributor to that. So, I like to help support water tank loans for that reason.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?
My best trips have been backpacking trips on the Rainbow Plateau in Northeast Arizona on the Navajo reservation. There are no roads up there or even official trails. To me, it’s just extra special to be in a place like that and know that only a few people will get to see it. You have to go with a guide who knows where to find water because most of the route is dry. West Canyon and Cummings Mesa have spectacular views. Sadly, I don’t think I will ever get to do the trip again because I have some serious lower back problems.  So, the memory for me is extra special.

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.
The most unusual thing about me is that I don’t mind sleeping on the ground, having to filter my own water, and going on strenuous hikes with a 40-pound pack if I get to see lovely places!

Interested in volunteering for Kiva’s Review and Translation Program? Read more about the program and check out our current opportunities here.



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Before joining Kiva, Janessa spent three years living and working in Cairo, Egypt. While there, she taught elementary school, studied Arabic, and worked as a researcher and editor at Al Ahram's Center for Political and Strategic Studies. She is passionate about the Middle East and has done a great deal of travel throughout the region. She also enjoys volunteering at the International Rescue Committee, where she has had the opportunity to work with refugees from around the world. She joins the Review and Translation Program team after completing an internship with the Field Support team here at Kiva. Janessa has a B.A. in Philosophy from UC Berkeley. She loves yoga, baking, and practicing Arabic.

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