by Cissy DeLuca, KF8 Indonesia
At TLM, there is an informal uniform code for each day of the week. Mondays are for blue shirts, Tuesdays are for orange, Wednesdays we wear green, Thursdays the staff wear the TLM batik and Fridays are for custom made blue and white shirts. On the back of these shirts reads, “Give your heart to love, Give your hands to serve.”
In previous experiences working in the development sector, I noticed many NGO and government workers often treated villagers in a manner I found less than acceptable. Nurses would be verbally, and sometimes physically, abusive towards the mothers who came for monthly baby weighing services. Berating them for not forming a proper line and rudely hurrying them along as they removed the carefully chosen outfit they had dressed their baby in for the event. NGO workers would breeze into a village unannounced in their private air-conditioned SUVs acting like their time was more valuable than the community’s time. Rudely expecting the village to scurry for a chair, fresh water, a translator and accommodate all their needs. Development work serves the purpose of bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, but these people widened it with their social behavior. In short, these situations broke my heart and greatly discouraged me.
Working with TLM has been a a breath of fresh air and reminded me what development work can, and should, be all about. Their strong Christian affiliation really shows in their demeanor. They treat their clients with dignity, respect and kindness. They are very patient when gathering and explaining information and do not take a condescending approach.
TLM only posts group loans to the Kiva website, so visits for borrower profiles take a very long time. After driving an hour or more to reach a village, they often spend an hour waiting for the group to assemble. Once the group assembles, they take an individual picture of each member. They then organize the clients for the group photo to be published on the website. After the pictures have been taken, they take the time to explain to the clients what Kiva is and that their photo will be viewed by millions of people. Each group member must then sign a release waiver. After all members have signed, the loan officer interviews the group leader to get information to write a compelling borrower profile. The whole ordeal from start to finish can take up to 5 hours for one single loan on Kiva!
Maybe the TLM staff members simply enjoy getting out of the office, but I think the enjoyment comes from giving their hands to serve. Their humble approach to performing their jobs is beyond inspiring. It is comforting to know that from the pockets of the generous Kiva lenders, through the technology of the socially minded Kiva staff to the on-the-ground initiative of the attentive TLM staff… Kiva/ TLM loans are handled with love from start to finish.