HSPFI Lending Team – 10/15/09 Update

For Friends of HSPFI – Philippines.

I feel lucky to be working as a Kiva Fellow in an area in the Philippines that was largely spared from the recent typhoons. The main HSPFI headquarters is in Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao – the southernmost island group in the Philippines. A HSPFI co-worker has told me that this area generally doesn’t (knock on wood) get hit by too many typhoons, but flooding does occur once in a while because of heavy rains. I’ve heard quite a bit about a particularly bad flood in Cagayan de Oro this past January, and have met one client whose garden was destroyed but since rebuilt with the help of a HSPFI loan.

Most of the recent devastation occurred in the northern region of Luzon, and Manila as the news have covered was hit particularly hard. My knowledge of what’s going on in the disaster areas is limited to what I’ve seen on the news and what I’ve heard from other Kiva Fellows in the Philippines. Two fellows are currently serving with ASKI in Cabanatuan City and one with CCT in Manila, and both organizations have clients who were affected by the storms. Two of those fellows have blogged about their experience on the ground so far on the Kiva Fellows Blog, and I would definitely recommend checking those out if you haven’t already:

Although Mindanao was largely unaffected by the recent typhoons, there are other problems plaguing this area of the Philippines – namely, ongoing conflict between the Philippines Government and Islamic militant groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf. I’m embarrassed to admit that I only had a vague understanding of this conflict before leaving the States, so this is something that I’m continuing to educate myself on while I’m here in Mindanao. One thing I have learned is that HSPFI does have Muslim clients, and plans to open another branch in a predominantly Muslim area. I find this fascinating because HSPFI, like most if not all other MFIs in the Philippines, is a Christian organization. While I definitely want to learn more about HSPFI’s interactions with their Muslim clients as my fellowship progresses, it may have to be done from afar. I’ve been warned against visiting some HSPFI branches because of the ongoing conflict. Also, one of the HSPFI staff told me that most of HSPFI’s Muslim clients are not comfortable with getting their picture taken – which poses obvious problems for Kiva purposes, so HSPFI’s Muslim clients are currently not posted on the Kiva website and do not receive any Kiva loans.

In the meantime in Cagayan de Oro City, life goes on as usual – the only thing I’ve seen here that hints at an ongoing conflict are the metal detectors and police checkpoints at the entrances of the local malls.

That’s it for this installment – more HSPFI-related stories to come from me for the HSPFI lending team!

– Eva Wu, KF9, Philippines

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