Meet Inspiring Borrower, Fall Out of Chair

My main responsibility as a Kiva Fellow is to meet with borrowers who have received Kiva loans, ask them how things are going, and then write a short update.  The update then gets sent out to each Kiva member who contributed money to the individual’s loan.  In addition to furthering Kiva’s goal of transparency, the journal updates help lenders stay engaged and active in the Kiva process.

To make these visits happen, though, I need the help of the local loan officers, who know the region, know their clients, and know how to easily explain to the clients why a tall guy with a notebook and funny sounding Spanish wants to ask them some questions.  I spent this week working in FP’s branch office in Ita, a small town about an hour outside of Asuncion.  When I arrived on Tuesday, I was quickly welcomed by two loan officers who recognized me from the soccer game a couple weeks ago (I still haven’t written about that.  In brief, I scored three times, but screwed up at least five times, so overall I think I’m at a minus-2).  I turned 25 on Wednesday, and one of the guys, named Jacinto, sang me the Happy Birthday song in Guarani when I arrived at the office.

Later in the day on Wednesday, Jacinto and I went to visit Juan Carlos Cardozo.  You can see the Kiva journal that I wrote about him by scrolling to the bottom of this page.  Juan Carlos was incredibly welcoming and eager to tell me all about his carpentery business.  We talked in his backyard over the squawks of chickens and the grunts of the fantastically pregnant sow from the nearby pen, and he explained how his business has grown over the past couple of years.  Juan Carlos’ success with microcredit was impressive–increased income has translated into tangible benefits for him and his family.  But I also just got the feeling that Juan Carlos was a really strong, upstanding dude.  His smile was warm, his handshake firm, and he laughed right along with me when I caught my first glimpse of the humongous pregnant pig in his yard.

So things were going really well when Juan Carlos offered me some cold terere tea.  I happily accepted and took a seat on the nearest chair while he prepared the terere.  When I reached out to take the cup, I ate it.  Notebook on the ground, knee in the dirt, tea all over the place.  I hadn’t noticed that the chair only had three legs.  Juan Carlos’ sons, who were sitting nearby, couldn’t contain their laughter.  I felt like a fool.  But Juan Carlos acted like nothing had happened.  He took the tea cup, refilled it, and continued telling me about what he wants to do with his next loan.  A stand-up dude indeed.

You may be wondering why such a talented carpenter hadn’t bothered to fix the broken chair.  It was made of metal.

Here’s a video of Juan Carlos explaining a wardrobe he made:

And the massive pig:


~ by nickcain on March 15, 2009.

5 Responses to “Meet Inspiring Borrower, Fall Out of Chair”

  1. This is wonderful.

  2. ahhh…i continue to grow more in awe of your travels. awesome pig, too. ; )

  3. […] I am always directed to take a seat in the shade and have a sip of tea (a custom that led to one particularly memorable moment). Tea Caddy on Linea […]

  4. […] than we did?  What if they have stronger stomachs or figure out how to talk to a borrower without falling off a chair into the dirt?   What are we, a group of rugged, field tested KF7’s, supposed to do when our Kiva-ness is […]

  5. […] borrowers and their families.  I’ve conducted visits in all sorts of ways: sitting in a chair (or falling out of one), standing at a store counter, talking through a gate, leaning on the hood of a car, or side […]

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