2010 Year in Review

I usually don´t have new year´s resolutions, but the last few years, it has been a generic “make this year better than the last”.  Whether that be traveling to 15 countries or graduating from college or working for Kiva, this year has been both un-forgettable and equally hard to top. Here are some highlights!

January. I´ll bring this full circle. Last New Year I spent in Frankfurt, Germany with Sandra Nymphius lighting off bottle rockets. A subsequent trip to the glorious dutch nation of Holland to visit Shamir, eat herring, and see Amsterdam make January 2010 equally unforgettable.

February-March. Columbia with Devin Dvorak. This whorlwind tour of Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Teresa, and Bogota involved a lot of beach side eating, mojitos, salsa dancing, and monkey chasing.  Never forget that day in Cartagena eating Ceviche… And back at Pepperdine for Songfest! Half the time I think I hated doing the practices, but at the end (and KTD´s almost win), I wouldn´t trade it for the world.

April. Wine tasting for my birthday. Getting the Kiva Fellowship. Graduating from college. My favorite month / memories of 2010…

May-June. Cruising the Mediterranean with Princess Cruises with the parents. Highlights: seeing Venice, quads in Mykonos, the spice market in Istanbul, Florence, Rome, and going back to Barcelona (easily one of my favorite cities in the world).  Road tripping up to San Luis Obispo with Hallie. The 24 hour drive out to Houston for Andy and Trudy Smith´s wedding.

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July-August. Kiva Training. Visiting with the cousins in San Francisco. Moving to Guatemala City to start my fellowship. Getting robbed on Roosevelt in Guatemala City (not a highlight but definitely memorable).  Moving to Aldea Nimasac in Guatemala. Visiting Lago Atitlán.

September-October. Kiva Vacation in Nicaragua (one of my favorite vacations of all time). Kiva Vacation in El Salvador. Surfing. Visiting with Devin Dvorak in Costa Rica. Seeing the Kite Festival in Sumpango.

November-December. Visiting the U.S. My weekend in San Diego. Moving to Cusco, Peru. Finding the meeting place. The near miss with a Machete Robbery. Having Marc Capule come visit. Exploring the Incan Culture and Ruins. Christmas with Peruvians and brunch in San Jeronimo.

Kiva: An Explanation

It recently occurred to me that for all my blog posts, you still don´t really know what Kiva is or what the heck I´m supposed to be doing. (Unless, of course, you are one of the 500 people I have told in person). So, if you are curious or just plain confused, maybe this will clear some of it up.

Kiva is a non-profit based out of San Francisco, essentially a website whose mission is “To connect people through lending to alleviate poverty”. It is a site where you, as a lender can lend small amounts of money ($25, $50, $100) to specific people all around the globe. The best part is you choose where your money is going.

Just think, a non-profit where every cent, every penny that you lend is going directly to the person you intended it to.  Wait, there is more.  Because it is a loan, you get repaid over the life of the loan.  So your $25, $50, $100 comes back to you over the course of 4, 6, 9, or 12 months (whatever the loan terms may be).  Kiva as an overall institution boasts a 98% repayment rate meaning that 98% of the time you get 100% of your money back.  These numbers are incredible considering the circumstances, and considering repayment rates on credit cards in the U.S. are much, much lower.

How it works: Kiva has partner institutions all around the world; these are already established microfinance institutions that are working to better their communities.  The two I am working with in Guatemala are ASDIR and FAPE. These institutions post borrower profiles complete with a pictures and a history (check out one I posted last week here: Visión de Fe).  Lenders, like me!, from around the world check out the profiles and choose to lend to individual borrowers.  Lend to Guatemala here.

Then, every month these borrowers repay the partner institution which in turn repays Kiva and in turn repays you! With the money coming back you can choose to relend to a different borrower, withdrawal it back to your Paypal account, or donate it to Kiva.  And ideally, the field partner sends you updates on the loan after the loan term has ended!

As as a Kiva Fellow, I facilitate these partnerships. Between you and the borrower, Kiva and the partner organization, and you and Kiva!