Friday, December 28, 2007


I met an amazing women today, well I meet amazing women everyday, but today I especially felt touched. She is the mother of 6, all children (including the oldest 25 yr. - studying to be a lawyer) still live with her in her 3 bedroom house. She is the secretary in her village bank, which has existed for the past 4 yrs! She complains of a machismo husband that won't let her do everything she wants. She stays up most nights until 2am knitting, so she can sell a sweater for 5 soles (almost $2). She makes up her own patterns of something that she thinks will look good. She is a health promoter and likes helping out her poor neighbors, and this is a women who lives in a dirt floor house. Her family just moved into this house because in her previous house one of the walls collapsed. She told me how she loves to help new, young moms. "If you don't have money for pants for your kid, then you take your old pants, cut them and make pants for your child, here...I'll show you." She has all kinds of animals in her patio (rabbits, ducks, chickens, etc..) and would love to have some land again. Her family use to live out of town, but they moved into town so that they wouldn't spend so much money on travel expenses for the kids going to and from school. She visits the mayor's office to ask for help for the poor, shoe-less kids in her neighbor. The last mayor gave christmas gifts to the kids in her neighbor, but this year the new mayor won't spend a dime. What can I offer this woman? She is empowered, beautiful, knowledgeable, savvy, kind, giving, surviving, and thankful. I feel honored to be able to work with women like this. Truely, what an honor.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I have been visiting a number of village banks in order to meet the women I will be supporting this year. Many of the bank meetings turn into "Chocolatadas," a hot cocoa and massive bread eating party for Christmas. It is a great way to meet the women and just chat, explain myself, ask them about their businesses, families, hopes and dreams. However, with that being said I will be glad when the holiday season is over and I don't need to stuff myself with paneton (the holiday bread of choice here). The women are animated and have great ideas of things they would like to be doing, so I have included some pictures of them here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Loan Payments

I am so impressed with some of the banks. We have walked into a couple of meetings and the women are sitting around a table, often times knitting, ready for the bank officer. Actually, the first repayment meeting I went to, the women had already started the meeting without the bank officer. This is a group, I am told, that has been involved with village banking for nearly 4 years. After that amount of time, I guess you learn something.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

In the office

The AFIDER staff and office provides for an animated environment. I have had the chance to meet many women here in the office. The office is a small, two story building. There is a place downstairs where the women come to make their loan payments, meet with the bank officers, and just chat. Upstairs there is 4 office rooms, one which will be mine! Vanessa, one of the bank officers, is pictured here with some women repaying their loan. The other picture is the entire AFIDER staff enjoying their paneton and soda as we prepare for a meeting with Maggie.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Movin' and Shakin'

Moving into my apartment was a bit of fiasco. Here are some pictures documenting the event: Maggie in market with all my housewares & our taxi driver carrying bed to apartment & Nora in the middle of the furniture section of the market.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Safe Landing

I have arrived in my new home for the year, after an uncomfortable 15 hr. night bus ride and some altitude adjustment I am soaking in cajamarca. Maggie has been a phenomenal guide, and I feel like I immediately have a ton of friends. The mountains are majestic. The people are beautiful; there is a mix of modern and ancient here. The mercado is like a piece of heaven, I will be getting fat this year, guaranteed.
Today I went out to the "campo," or countryside, to meet some of the women I will be working with. I went with one of my new coworkers, Vanessa. She told me as I got on the moto, "I don´t have my license (to drive), but I will drive safe." What else could I do, but let the wind brush my hair as I sat in awe of the mountains and surroundings that were a feast for my new eyes?