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Friday, June 27, 2008

LMU Alternative Breaks Volunteer - Carol


I simplified the training modules for the micro-lending program. Keeping in mind that the borrowers are the targeted audience, I selected basic terms and phrases that they would understand. I tried to emphasize creativity when selecting a business. I noticed that many borrowers stick to typical businesses such as recycling and selling groceries. But to emphasize innovation and sustainability, I mentioned as an example a business where tourists can get their picture taken in traditional Khmer costumes. I kept the main information on the slides, and took out some of the fat. I hope that these new presentations will draw the audience’s attention and guide the borrowers to successful business paths.

For the micro-lending, the students drive their motorbikes into the villages to collect the payments. It is convenient for the villagers who have to stay home to run their business and look after their children. I went to collect the loans with Ra Ya. The first family we visited greeted us warmly. They invited us inside their homes and offered us chairs to sit on. This welcoming interaction was great. The borrower’s husband was a tuk tuk driver so he spoke English. He was interested in where I was from and whether or not I went to school. Likewise, I was interested in getting to know more about them. The students visit their assigned borrowers weekly, so there is a strong sense of trust between them. This is one of the factors why I think the lending program is a great success. Ra Ya respects the borrowers because they work diligently and repay their loans. The same can be said for the borrowers who respect her. One of the borrowers was not able to pay this week due to a medical expense. Unforeseen circumstances do happen, and it is difficult for people to save money for events like these. They are used to living on a daily wage. So JWOC is working on this problem. I am hopeful that this program will be able to decrease the number of defaulters and continue to grow strong.

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