By Suzy Marinkovich, KF9

My husband walked in to the CIDRE office this Tuesday around 5pm, smiling big but smelling awful. Everyone crowded around and asked, “Mateo! Como le ha ido?” – “How was your [first] day?” I could tell they were worried all day when they had asked me if I heard from him, but I knew he was fine. They may worry that this gringo from the States, who is still very much learning Spanish, can’t hang in ‘el campo’ (the farm). But Matt loves that kind of stuff.

My husband is a veterinary technician back home, and is currently applying to veterinary school. When he agreed to come join me on this 8-month adventure, both of us worried about what it would look like for him – as we had zero plans and no idea where I’d even be come second and third placement. But the experience has been as remarkable for him as it has for me. At CIDRE, the loan officers set him up with the very veterinarians who take care of the CIDRE borrowers’ precious bovine. I’ll discuss his dirty work with more detail in another blog post – but let me just give you a taste… his first day involved delivering a baby calf and neutering pigs. Just another day at the office, right?

Shameless plug for CIDRE's new lending team!

Click the pic: it's a shameless plug for CIDRE's new lending team!

CIDRE is one of Kiva’s brand-new Latin American partners, and is extremely well-respected here in Bolivia. The founder, Alvaro, does a wonderful job operating the business and his plans for CIDRE’s growth are both tangible and exciting.

Hours after I arrived here in Cochabamba last week, I began mysteriously throwing up over and over again. In a delirious state and in the hands of my husband, I made it to the hospital – where I was promptly hooked up to fluids.

I was finally able to leave the hospital after spending two painfully sleepless nights there.

So, as every person hopes and dreams when they apply to be a Kiva Fellow, I met the executive staff and loan officers from CIDRE while lying on a hospital bed hooked up to an IV. As soon as they got word that their Kiva gringa was already in the hospital, they felt responsible for me and rushed to be by my side. They gave us their cell phone numbers and told Matt to call them “in the middle of the night” if anything happens to me. Of course I was fine, but the experience was definitely an ice-breaker.

More than anything, my first week highlighted what a family CIDRE is and how important Kiva is to them. CIDRE was very excited to help Matt with finding volunteer work within their network, as well as caring when they found me in the hospital. Their kind attention and excitement to have us here has been very contagious. As a brand new partner, this funding from Kiva has already thrust a door wide open to the tiny microfinance institution that they never thought possible. At my first day at work, Alvaro shared with me all the exciting plans they have in the pipeline – including contracting five new Kiva Coordinators!

We always think about how our borrowers benefit, and how we benefit, but sometimes we think of MFIs as just the ‘middle man’ between the two. I think we can also wear a smile about how exciting the new money and partnership is for the MFI as well as its employees and partners, who can now take this free capital and use the interest on it to expand in to even more socially oriented projects. As we all know, development is multi-faceted and there are a multitude of factors that need to be aligned at once to promote progress.

But just take Alvaro’s decision to hire 5 Kiva Coordinators for example. In South America’s poorest country – five Cochabambinos are no longer unemployed thanks to the affect of Kiva’s capital!

Click here to support fundraising borrowers at CIDRE!

Suzy Marinkovich is a Kiva Fellow at new Kiva partner CIDRE in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the second of her three placements.  She has a wholehearted passion for microfinance, social justice, and poverty alleviation.  Suzy is most excited to listen to the incredible stories of Kiva borrowers in South America and let them know how much they continually inspire us all.

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