One borrower, Mrs. Yen, particularly stood out to me. She is a forty-year-old mother of three who farms rice, raises fish and poultry, in addition to weaving baskets, selling her products in local markets. Mrs. Yen lives in a village with a cluster of uninhabited hills nearby. During the week, Mrs. Yen and other women from her neighborhood take turns hiking up to these hills to collect bamboo. Early each morning, around 3AM, a group of women heads to the hills to gather bamboo and comes back with bundles of stems. After the bamboo is brought back to the village, it is cut in half through its longer axis, then those halves are halved again. The resulting long strips of bamboo can then be bent to weave baskets, while retaining the sturdy properties of the plant. Mrs. Yen can weave eighty baskets in one day. Sometimes her kids come along and help, adding another 20 baskets to her batch. These baskets are then sold in markets in neighboring districts.
Raising poultry comes with uncertainty about whether the number of animals that the poulterer starts out with will live to be healthy adults which can be sold for a profit. Similar uncertainty comes with growing crops, which may not yield as much produce as expected.
Mrs. Yen’s loan, funded by Kiva lenders, not only afforded her the means to diversify her sources of income, but also allowed her to invest in supplies that created a safe environment for her poultry. Additionally, she purchased adequate feed for her poultry, further improving their chances of surviving in to adulthood and retaining their profitability for her family.
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Born in Pakistan and raised outside of Seattle, Vardah graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington. Taking time to travel to Central America, Europe and part of Northern Africa, Vardah is excited to continue exploring different places and cultures. Growing keen to contribute to poverty alleviation, she learned that empowering people to help themselves by equipping them with skills and providing tools, such as financial assistance, is an effective and sustainable approach to tackling poverty. Having first heard of Kiva while reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Vardah began participating as a Kiva lender. Eager to take on a greater role to help with Kiva's mission and to fulfill her desire to continue traveling, she is excited to participate as a Kiva Fellow.