Holly Torpey


“Seeing this poverty made me want to do something meaningful to help—not just put a band aid on the problem—but I didn’t know how. When I heard about Kiva through my translation professor, I thought it was an ideal way for me to continue developing my Spanish and make a meaningful contribution at the same time."

City: Houston, TX
Language: Spanish
Team: Los Habaneros
Time with Kiva: 1 year 7 months

Outstanding contributions to Kiva: During her year and a half with Kiva, Holly has translated over 430 loans, while in school and raising a family. Holly has also been a consistent presence on the Volunteer Forum, giving helpful advice to other volunteers.

Read on for a brief Q&A with this dedicated volunteer.

How did you find out about Kiva?
I was earning my translation certification through the UC San Diego Extension and looking for more ways to practice my skills. My professor suggested volunteering with Kiva to gain more translation experience. So then I applied and was very excited to get in.

Why do you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?
Thanks to my husband’s job, we’ve had the opportunity to live in Africa and South America. During these international travels, we saw first-hand the harsh conditions that people have to deal with in developing countries, with no obvious route to improving their opportunities because of barriers like poverty, government corruption, and social class structures. Seeing this poverty made me want to do something meaningful to help—not just put a band-aid on the problem—but I didn’t know how. When I heard about Kiva through my translation professor, I thought it was an ideal way for me to continue developing my Spanish and make a meaningful contribution at the same time.

What is your favorite partner or region?
Because I’ve lived in Argentina, I like to review loans from neighboring countries like Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile since the language and culture are more familiar to me. I also like translating loans from countries I haven’t been to but would like to visit, such as Ecuador and Colombia.

Tell us about a memorable profile that you reviewed.
One profile that always pops into my mind is of a man from El Salvador. His name was Eusebio. The picture alone was beautiful. He’s sitting in a small, white fishing boat with colorful stripes. The photo was taken at a downward angle so the entire frame was filled with the gorgeous blue of the water. In the description, he said that he goes out in his little boat every morning to fish so that he can support his children. I translated it and then immediately lent to it.


Holly translated the loan profile of Eusebio, a fisherman in El Salvador.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?
If I could go back to one place, I would go to Patagonia. I grew up near Lake Tahoe so I feel at home in mountains and wide open spaces. Patagonia just calls to me. One spot in particular is the Valdés Peninsula in Argentina. It’s not what you typically think of when you think of Patagonia: it’s not mountainous, but coastal. It’s a huge arid space with roaming wildlife and scrubby vegetation. My family and I visited a penguin rookery there. It was not a tourist spot, so it was only our family and friends there sitting on the beach with a hundred thousand penguins on either side of us. The glaciers further south are also incredible.

Tell us an unusual fact about yourself.
The summer before my senior year of high school, I did a student exchange program in the Ivory Coast. That’s when I first really became aware of conditions in developing countries. Students at my school had done exchanges in France before, but that year, the Ivory Coast was added as an option. I couldn’t pass it up!

Interested in volunteering with Kiva? Check out our opportunities at kiva.org/volunteer.

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