Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In Peru, Witnessing the Power of Microcredit Loans in the Lives of Driven Women

Mila with the women of Village Bank "Las Azucenas"

It was an honor to meet the joyous women of the Azucenas village bank. Rosario Yupanque “Charo”, a DiscoverHope instructor, who travels to the village banks outside the city, invited me to one of her classes. I was greeted with a glass of yellow Inca Kola as the women prepared their yarn for their lesson. This was going to be both a knitting class and a repayment meeting. It didn’t take long before the women welcomed me and soon the room was filled with laughter. It was obvious that the women were more than just members of the same village bank. They were friends, supporters, and teachers to each other. They laughed together, shared stories and exchanged tips. I heard tips on what to do when a baby is sick, how to knit a specific pattern, how to heal a cut using spider webs, and most importantly how to price a knitted creation. 
On this occasion, I would be able to see the many aspects of DiscoverHope. It started with the lesson where the women asked Charo many questions. As we arrived, everybody had their yarn out and many hands were already hard at work. Within the hour, I was able to see the transformation of a ball of yarn into the formation of a sweater-magic. The women proudly showed off their creations. Some of the women were making clothes for their kids and others had presold their knitted items.
Next, I was able to see the repayment meeting that was guided by the “Promotora” Maricela and the village bank treasurer. The women were called up for their monthly repayment one by one. It was exciting to see how sharp the women were during the accounting and record keeping. It was also impressive to see many women choosing to leave additional savings.
Overall, in one evening I was able to see and hear about the translation of hard work and drive into results. I am very grateful for the visit because it reminded me of the fighting spirit of women and the power of self-reliance. The Azucenas bank will continue to inspire me even after I leave Cajamarca.