By Muskan Chopra | KF18 | Kenya

During our week of training in San Francisco, we were warned about the ‘trough of disillusionment’, where all will not be smooth in the field. Whether we were going to Kenya, Cambodia, Armenia or Peru, we will wake up to tough days where hot water decides to take a holiday or mosquitos find a way through the bed nets.

I often thought to myself – shouldn’t we instead be worrying about our borrowers’ ‘trough of disillusionment’? What’s a day of cold water baths and mosquito bites when thousands of people in the bottom of the pyramid don’t have access to water at all or can’t even afford malaria pills?

Three weeks of meeting these people has taught me that micro-borrowers don’t know what disillusionment is. They only know of hope and optimism, constantly planning for brighter futures.

How can they not when over 22,000 Kiva lenders made a loan to a borrower just this week.

Welcome to the world of Josphat – school principal, teacher and aspiring entrepreneur…

Josphat is one of the happiest people I know. When I visited him during a borrower verification, I waded through a slum in the Western district of Nairobi – trash uncollected for days, stoned teenage boys sitting outside their homes, mothers cooking lunch with their children tied to their backs.

All looked bleak until I found Josphat with his daughter, standing proudly outside the make-shift school built in the middle of this chaos.

With a loan from Faulu Kenya, one of our MFI partners, he used timber and tin to create a shelter where 70 upper-primary students from the community are schooled so that someday they can build a brick home for themselves.

Good teachers are expensive so he used part of the loan to send his wife to Teacher’s College. She is now fully trained and is taking care of the young students who come in for the morning shift.

There are 6 classrooms, some of which receive little sunlight. Since there is no electricity, he shifts the evening classes upstairs where students can benefit from being one level above the surrounding homes that otherwise block the light. He also constructed the school very strategically, bordering the neighboring brick wall to avoid damages to the structure during the monsoon season.

Despite all the challenges, Josphat never compromised on what is important yet ignored too often in slum schools…

…a playground for children to connect…

…to build friendships that last forever…

…to give people way too old such as myself a chance to relive their childhood again.

Josphat wants a bigger loan so he can build a school made out of iron sheets, and soon after expand his facility to accommodate high school students.

Trough of disillusionment?

WHAT IS THAT?

Muskan Chopra is a Kiva Fellow, working in Kenya this summer with Kiva Partner Faulu Kenya.  Find out how you can become a Kiva Fellow or just more information on kiva and microfinance in general on kiva.org.


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