“You Are Welcome”
By: Jed Goldstein (KF9, Uganda)
Hi my name is Jed Goldstein and this is my first blog post as a Kiva Fellow. I arrived in Uganda 4 days ago on Saturday afternoon and began work with Pearl Microfinance on Monday. So far I have felt incredibly “welcome.” I surround “welcome” with quotation marks because meeting someone new and introducing yourself in Uganda is a serious act not to be taken lightly.
The first phase of introduction requires a firm handshake and a level of prolonged eye contact. If you are strong enough to make it through the mini staring contest a local Ugandan will offer his/her name followed by the patient, but strong declaration that “you are welcome.” So, considering I have met more Ugandans than I can remember in the past couple of days, I say with confidence that I feel extremely “welcome.”
One of my first tasks as a Kiva Fellow was to deliver a bunch of electronic equipment to local MFI’s. I think in total I transported from the U.S. 16 digital cameras and 2 laptop computers to Kampala with me. Yesterday I began making the delivery rounds and could not believe the warm receptions I received. All of the MFI employees were so grateful to be receiving items that will facilitate their connection with Kiva and better allow them to post business profiles on the website.
While it was great to be treated as mini celebrity when I was delivering the items, my coworker here at Pearl said something very interesting to me as I handed her four cameras. She remarked, “You guys are doing everything— Giving us the food then feeding us.” This statement captured my attention, so I recorded it in my notebook and thought about what exactly she meant for a while. My conclusions (they may be wrong of course) are as follows:
Here in Uganda where 50% of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day, nothing is given and life is a constant struggle to survive. Gifts here are not given or received in vain, but they are appreciated to a level and extent that is hard for me, and I believe many of my fellow Americans, to fully understand. The reason I write of this is to remind Kiva lenders, just how grateful the entrepreneurs, not just in Uganda, but around the world are for their loans. These loans in many cases serve to make that “constant struggle” just a little bit easier.
If you would like to lend to a pearl borrower please follow this link: PEARL’s KIVA PAGE