My Kiva Fellowship recently led me on a 930km trip through Western Uganda, where I visited a variety of borrowers living in rural areas. Although the journey was long and full of dust, sweat and bumpy roads, there were also many laughs, delicious foods and wonderful people along the way.

The purpose of this adventure was to meet with eight borrowers scattered around the countryside so that I could listen to their stories and verify that the information posted on Kiva was accurate. I’m pleased to report that the trip was successful on all counts!

The most touching moment of each visit universally occurred when I showed the borrowers their Kiva profiles and they viewed their lenders for the first time; this is when they realized the awe-inspiring fact that people all over the world - whom they had never met - believed in them and hoped for their success.

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are the reactions of three borrowers following the discovery of their incredible international support:

Sarah is a young, married mother and the group leader of a 12-person borrowing group called Kayembe Group. Sarah applied for a loan to buy clothes for her shop in Rukungiri, located 400km from Kampala with a population of 15,000. As group leader, Sarah is responsible for disciplining members if they don’t repay their loans on time. Being the leader isn’t always easy, but Sarah was all smiles when she realized her group had supporters in Canada, Ireland, Bahamas, Spain, China, Netherlands and Japan!

Daniel is a 40-year-old father of seven children. He lives in Lyantonde, located about 220km from Kampala with a population of 10,000. Daniel never graduated from primary school and has been working in agriculture his whole life. He grows coffee, potatoes and tomatoes, which he uses to feed his family and sell at the market.

Daniel has taken six loans with UGAFODE. With these loans, Daniel generated a significant profit - enough to pay for the principal and interest on his loans, as well as his children’s school fees and the construction of his family home. Daniel’s firstborn is now in secondary school - further than he ever progressed. He is a proud father. Here is his reaction to discovering he had funders in the USA, Germany and Australia.

Aloysius is a 47-year-old father of four children between the ages of nine and 20. He left school at an early age and now raises cattle in Ibanda, another small town about 300km from Kampala.

Aloysius received a loan to purchase a small plot of land and supplies for his farm. Aloysius’s eldest child is now in trade school for brick-laying and his second eldest has nearly finished secondary school. Aloysius hopes to expand his farm and continue paying all of his children’s school fees. Here he is upon finding out about his lenders in the USA, Norway and Australia.

The smiles weren’t limited to just the borrowers however. Here’s a bonus photo of me and a relieved Sharon (UGAFODE's Kiva Coordinator) upon finishing our epic voyage.

Thanks very much for reading! You can support smiles in a rural community by clicking here and lending to a Kiva borrower today.

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