Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Its getting better all the time..."

So that last posting was a bit depressed. These ups and downs are normal though. I am feeling much better now that I have officially reached my second month of service. I thought I would just write a follow-up to that last post to let ya'll know that things are going well.

I thought maybe I would talk a little bit about the work I am doing. Things have started off slow as I am learning how exactly the bank functions and getting to know people, but I have identified what some of the major problems are and am starting the planification to help out. Firstly the bank doesn't have enough members to create a large enough base of savings money that the bank can then use to give out as credit. So, we are going to start doing sensibilisation to encourage savings and membership with the MFI. Also there are too many people who don't pay their loans back so we are helping out with the management of credit portfolios and I want to start making everyone turn in a budget with their request and I plan to help people who are taking out larger loans for big projects do feasibility studies. This all sounds well and good but the execution is always a lot harder than coming up with the idea.

Another big problem is that there are fees that one has to pay in order to become a member of the bank and therefore take out a loan. Kekem and the surrounding villages are quite poor and the thought of dishing out a large sum of money, even though it is more like buying shares and remains that persons money, is not possible or too daunting. So, I want to implement a program that another volunteer did a while back in their town where people can pay the fees and start-up costs little by little. Also hiring a motodriver to go out to these remote places and collect the money so that people don't have to take the extra time or pay the extra money to travel to the bank.

What I really want to do and am starting to set up for is do an after school program at the high school for teaching basic life skills and business, such as budgeting, setting goals, making action plans, etc. A kind of Junior Achievement Program. I really want to work with young people and am starting to teach english at one of the other schools (but only for a couple hours a week) which should help me make some more contacts in that area.

I figure the best way to feel better is to get as busy as possible so that I don't have time to throw myself pity parties. Hope this post finds everyone well and I miss you all!

If anyone has any ideas or has read something that they think is interesting and/or applicable please let me know and send it my way!