After spending a week and a half in Cajamarca working with Nora and getting to know dozens of women in many different village banks, I feel my work with the Discover Hope Fund has come full circle. I began collaborating with DHF about 9 months ago as an intern, and later as a member of the marketing team, working on the fundraising and event planning side of DHF. Then I jumped on the opportunity to make a trip to Cajamarca do some program evaluation work in the field, actually meeting and getting to know some of the women after working behind the scenes for several months.
Nora has taken me to many development classes and village bank meetings so that I can talk with the women and learn what about DHF is working and what needs changing. So far I have heard some really great suggestions for improvement, but overall the women have expressed to me how much these microloans and classes have helped their businesses, their families and themselves. Using what they have learned in the classes, the women are improving or expanding their businesses and becoming more confident in the work that they do.
I will leave Cajamarca in a few days with many new friends, a suitcase full of handmade purses and jewelry from the women, and a unique perspective on international development work.