Friday, May 25, 2007

Caught the microfund bug

wrote this the other day, but I've been so busy visiting borrowers, that i just come home and crash every night...I'm very behind on everything, but it's been a really inspiring week. i'm pretty worn out and we're going sightseeing this weekend. hopefully i'll get to bed soon....

22 May 2007

Today was when it really just hit me. This work being done by Microfund is not only important, but indispensable. As the manager of the whole Lake region said today, he doesn’t want to know where the country would be right now without microfinance (especially since the turmoil in the 90’s). Things are pretty bad as it is, how could it be worse? I met a woman today who was so beautiful, and had the biggest smile I’ve seen in Togo. She also has two beautiful young girls, the eldest of whom will be starting school next year, which is an opportunity the mother never had having lost her father when she was very young. Until she found Microfund, she was selling oil, but most of her money passed through the hands of a loan shark. At times the rates were so high that she wasn’t able to repay, so she had to disappear for some time in order to earn money to repay the loan shark (I’m not sure what she had to do while she was away from her family). Now she has a booming business and all of the people in her area come to her general goods store. She would’ve sold out of rice and beans, except that she wanted to keep the end of it to show me. Not only that, but she has built her own small one-room house out of actual cement (floors and walls), and she has windows in the house, AND it’s painted inside and out. She’s very proud of what she’s accomplished, and she should be. AND her husband is supportive and even reminds her when she needs to repay her loan (not that she needs reminding because she is a loyal and timely member). She expects all of her children to make it very far in school (including the one soon to arrive), and she dreams to one day be able to own her own land and build a home on it for her children. I saw an ad for the oil industry the other day that had Miss Togo on a large billboard supporting some brand of vegetable oil. If I were the judge, I would pick the woman I met today as the next Miss Togo.

Well, so that’s it. I want to do anything possible to help Microfund expand their services, especially since it seems that the larger MFI’s in the country don’t really try to reach out to the poor villages the way Microfund does (or when they do it’s to try to take away the members who have already been mobilized and formed groups to join Microfund…but it rarely works and when they do leave they tend to come back (according to Joseph and Edmond). I hope this isn’t really the case, but it’s very likely. This is such tough work that I can see how programs with lots of money and supporters wouldn’t want to bother…

I’ve written so much I won’t go into full length about the handicapped woman I was finally able to meet yesterday (after hearing her praise several times from Joseph). She was really so touching. She’s been handicapped since she was born and was left by her husband because of it after they’d had 4 children together. It still hurt so much that she didn’t want to talk about it. She used to survive solely on presents given to her by family members. Slowly she would save some of that until she could buy and sell some candy and cigarettes. With Microfund she has now gotten to the place where she has a large shop in what used to be her mother’s home where she and her family now live. She also cares for her brother’s children. She has people go to the markets for her to purchase products for the shop and she works such long hours that she was recently very ill and the nurse told her she needs to get more rest and move around (she currently has no wheelchair and is in desperate need of one…. I’m already looking into the price of one here.) Her dream is to buy land and build homes for her children so that one day they will be able to say that their mother was handicapped but she was able to leave them that inheritance.

I think that says it all.

1 comment:

Hector Palchik said...

Dalia: As your dad I know I have to restrain myself from talking about you, but today you made me cry. Kisses, Dad.