by Elena Kuehn, KF11 Vietnam

“What a woman! How much energy! Wow…” thoughts that have crossed my mind several times during the last two weeks. I was visiting Fund for Poor Women (FPW) in the Thanh Hoa province and got to know the people working there and could meet many of the Kiva borrowers. It wasn’t easy to arrange these meetings as most FPW clients work in agriculture and leave their houses when the sun rises and work until late at night. They can however be encountered at home during lunch break when they try to escape the sun during the hottest time of the day.

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“Thanh Hoa women are strong workers”, is a sentence that was often repeated to me. And seriously, I don’t doubt that. I met Mrs. Linh, who like many others is multitasking between several jobs and raises pigs, cultivates rice and has a food stand but also is the head of a large family with many children and grandchildren most of whom are still living in the family house. Also there was Mrs. Chin, who manages a bakery where she and her son produce 1’500 breads every night. After her husband deceased 15 years ago she first closed the bakery as she thought she could not handle it single handed. But with the help of a FPW credit and her younger son she found the courage to open it again she even managed to expand the bakery and employs two workers today.
“The credit gives the women confidence”, says Mrs. Xuong, the director of FPW. So it’s not only the direct financial support that enables the women to better care for their families but also the recognition of the important role they have. Interviewing the borrowers and entering there private spheres with a video camera I was afraid to be seen as an intruder in peoples life. But Mrs. Xuong sees that differently: “The fact that FPW and through Kiva even people from other countries care for them, that you even visit their house, makes them understand how important they are.”

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