My name is Cassie DeFillipo, and I am one of the new Kiva Fellows currently training in San Francisco and preparing to head out into the field to serve as a liason for Kiva and its microfinance institutions in Africa. I will be spending my first three months at CRAN (Christian Rural Aid Network) on the coast of Ghana about an hour west of its capital city and then three months working with Sinapi Aba Trust in Kumasi, Ghana’s cultural capital where many of its most famous products come from. After that, I will be sent somewhere else in Africa–pretty much wherever Kiva needs me. As I prepare by purchasing nine months worth of anti-malarial medication, fundraising, and setting up a work plan that I know very well I may not be able to keep while working in a country that moves quite a bit slower than me, I find myself getting more excited and eager about this opportunity. One thing I like about the microfinance world is that they try to be very transparent and honest about the strengths and weaknesses that go along with microfinance. This movement–shall we call it a microfinance movement–is not about saving the world, and my hopeful dreamy self realizes this can be much more sustainable. I spent last summer working in Ghana as a journalist, and the poverty I saw astounded me. What astounded me even more was the amazing masses of hopeful people who wanted to better themselves but didn’t have the resources to do so. My desire to help them is what led me to participate in this program. I go back in the hopes of being a resource for both Kiva and the microfinance institutions to make leaps or at least baby steps that tackle this problem of poverty. Back to bucket baths. Back to no or less-than-par indoor plumbing. Back to whistles on the street and multiple marriage proposals daily. The truth is, I feel so blessed to be able to go back to a place that taught me so much about hope and caring about others and hopefully making a difference for a group of people whom I believe would do so much with an opportunity to develop themselves.

I look forward to sharing my journey with others, and I want to finish my first blog entry by recounting a story. I went to Nicaragua in July and was staying in the mountains outside of Matagalpa in a rural agricultural area. One of the men and I began talking, and he told me (with no idea that I was applying to be a Kiva Fellow) that what the farmers in this disconnected town really needed was access to capital. He told me that this access would open doors for these farmers being able to develop their crops and make the most out of their land.This inspired me, more than anything, to enable others to make the most out of their own resources. Ghana, here I come….

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