Kati Mayfield, KF10 Honduras
Before I go to meet Prisma’s Kiva clients, I like to look at the pictures in the their “funded by” list, and to see which are the top lending teams to have contributed to their loan. Because the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious team has made the most loans overall on Kiva, it’s not surprising that it is the top lender for many Prisma clients.
It appeared as such for one client I spoke with last week. Hers was a particularly powerful interview because her father had recently been killed. As I wrote the journal update, I didn’t know how to relate the potency of her story to her investors except to put it in her own words: “because my father was a man of faith, I know that he is in a better place, and that God will also help me through my grieving process”. I found myself wanting to editorialize at the end of the email, wanting to justify the borrower’s certainty in God.
This surprised me, because if you asked me whether I belonged in the Kiva Christians team [number two in amount lent through Kiva] or in the aforementioned “Atheists, Agnostics …”, I would say the latter.
It’s true that I have taken the process of cultural assimilation to the extreme here – saying “God be with you” before I hang up the phone with a coworker; shouting “God bless you, brother” to a client as we pull up for an interview; attending church once a week with my roommate (and singing heartily along to the hymns, I must admit!). So in jumping to defend the convictions of this client, was I really just defending my own budding religious conversion?
Well, the last five weeks have initiated a sort of spiritual awakening within me, but despite doing my best to mimic Honduran religious tendencies, I wouldn’t say that I’ve been “born-again”. Rather, my free-thinking ways are finding “God” in everything I do here. In humanity.
I’m excited, because I have been on the edge of this breakthrough for a long time. I began studying microfinance in college because the model of community-based financial growth inspired me. I applied to the Kiva Fellows program to learn more about this development strategy, and when I got accepted, I got a huge show of financial and moral support from my network of friends and family. It seems fitting that as I work with developing communities in Honduras, I am doing so on the good graces of my community in the US. And that, in talking with Prisma borrowers about their lives and their businesses, I get to be part of the process that links them to the international Kiva family.
This process and the last five weeks of Hallelujah!s finally sparked my own divine revelation: it’s all about Community and Connectedness. These are pillars of Kiva’s brand of faith, and they must be the reason Kiva attracted me in the first place.
Personal epiphanies are “común y corriente” among Kiva Fellows (read recent enlightened reflections by Mary, Monica, Brian, and Bryan), but I’ve decided to share my experience because I think that all members of the Kiva community can relate (even the most skeptical among us). I will not pretend that every Kiva lender sends a prayer to the borrower when they click the Lend button; nor that every borrower considers their loan to be a blessing. But many Prisma clients do tie their understanding of Kiva directly to God. They tell me that they received their loan “Gracias a Diós” (thanks to God), that their businesses flourish for the same reason, and that they repay responsibly because they are answerable to God. Though I wish they would credit their own hard work and ambition a bit more, I admire their faith in something larger than themselves. So as a Kiva Fellow I try to help clients conceptualize how Kiva fits into this “bigger picture”, and in the meantime I feel honored to be part of something they hold in such high spiritual esteem.
Trying to decide where you fit in the grand scheme of things? Make a Kiva loan through the Prisma Honduras lending team, and see if it speaks to you!