Kiva Fellow, Pre-Trip Thoughts

As most close friends and family know by now, I’m excited to be traveling to Cagayan de Oro, Philippines as a Kiva Fellow! If you haven’t heard of Kiva.org, I would highly encourage you to check out their website, as the concept behind their organization is really cool. Kiva is basically a microfinance organization that makes small loans to entrepreneurs around the world, so they can grow their businesses and improve the life of themselves, their family, and even their community. The cool thing about Kiva is that it allows you as an individual lender to go on their website and make small $25 loans to any entrepreneur of your choice. Over a period of time (between 6 to 12 months), the borrower will pay back the loaned amount to Kiva so you’ll ultimately get your money back, interest-free. It’s a great way to make a small but powerful difference in the world.

Kiva is all about communications and connections between individuals, so as part of my fellowship I’ll be interviewing different borrowers and sharing their stories with Kiva lenders through blogs, journal entries, profiles, etc. on Kiva.org. I’ll also be assisting both Kiva and Hagdan sa Pag-uswag Foundation, Inc. or HSPFI (Kiva’s field partner organization in the Philippines) with other work as needed. I’ll be the first Kiva Fellow to work with HSPFI, so it’s definitely an exciting prospect!

This blog posting was actually a long time in coming. I was accepted to the fellowship program around the middle of August, but I kept putting it off because there was just so much going on. In the whirlwind of preparing for my fellowship in the Philippines, I had also decided to move to Australia in January 2010. There are a multitude of reasons involved in the planned move to Australia, just as there were in accepting the Kiva Fellowship. For people who know me, yes, my Australian boyfriend played a big part in this decision 🙂 But there was so much else to consider, and these weren’t decisions that I could make lightly.

Without a firm decision in mind, I would’ve had way too many opportunities to balk – when giving notice to my managers, landlord, even friends and family. I’ve met such wonderful people over the last three years in D.C., and really enjoyed living here. I don’t think there’s any other city in the world that would’ve given me such a chance to discover a love of public policy/government consulting, mostly because of a job that, through its up and downs, gave me amazing opportunities to learn and try so many different things. So in some ways I feel rather spoiled to be doing all this, especially during the recession (mind to self: there are so many people out there scrambling for jobs! And you’re willing to give up a perfectly fine one?! Are you crazy??)

However, something happened after I got my Kiva Fellow acceptance. I had been scrambling from one imagined scenario to another, unsure of my plans and what’s going to happen in the future. With the acceptance in hand, suddenly all the pieces started falling into place and everything seemed so right. I felt like everything conspired to get me to this place, and once I got “here,” it was good. I’m not at all religious, but I feel like I’ve been walking in a state of grace. Some doors close, and others open. I feel very grateful and excited about the opportunities ahead.

Anyways, before I get overly sentimental or utterly distracted by all the crazy moving logistics, I’ll be in San Francisco for training at Kiva headquarters from September 21 – 25, and then working in the Philippines from October 5 – December 18! I’ll be “officially” blogging on the Kiva Fellows Blog, but I’m planning to keep an ongoing record of my adventures here as well 🙂 So definitely check back often and share your thoughts! I’ll be looking forward to keeping in touch with everyone, wherever you are!

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