Just to start off where I ended last time, here's the last paragraph from the previous entry:
That day we visited three centers (each loan officer is encouraged to take on a load such that they visit three centers every day Monday-Thursday, I'm not sure yet, but I think there's between 4 and 6 loan officers at the branch). The next day I was able to visit another two centers and a capacitación, or training of a new center. With Grameen Bank, the women must attend 7 different training sessions so this was only the first that I got to go to.
This training was about 45 minutes by motorcycle outside of Panajachel in a small community outside of Sololá, Guatemala. David, the loan officer I went along with, and I rode into the village only to realize he had no idea of the location of the house where we were to meet the women who wanted to start a new Center. David made a few calls and we ended up having to ride around asking if anyone knew of the group. We were soon directed up a hill to a small house. The owner of the house welcomed us in and informed us that she had told everyone the meeting was at 330, instead of 3. This was at 2:45. David was in a bit of a rush to get back to the office and asked the woman if she could call around.
The group slowly filtered in, and David began explaining the process of the loan distribution. He explained that they must train in a couple different sessions and then all travel as a group to the main office in Panajachel to fill out paper work and receive their loans as well as loan booklets. He handed them each a piece of paper with the 4 promises on it and told each group of women (group=5, center=5-6 groups) that they must have the four main promises memorized when they come to the office. Some of the women were already familiar with the program and were able to help the others. David instructed them to get their kids, or their friends, to read the promises and help them to memorize them if they were unable to read. David handed out some papers with the information on them and told the women to choose their groups and their presidents and we were on our way back to Panajachel.
The women came in last Saturday where David and one of the Bangladeshis who works in the office, Borhan, sat them down and explained everything in detail. I wasn't able to be at this part of the training session, unfortunately, so I can't really go into detail about it.
Other than that, it's been pretty much the same day to day. Some days I'll go out to visit the centers and other days I'll stay in the office and help out with whatever I can. I've been doing quite a bit of translating for Alomgir as he had a Microcredit Summit for Latin America and the Caribbean region this week in Cartagena, Colombia.
I just got an updated document on things I can put together for Whole Planet while I'm here and it includes a lot of interviewing of the clients about their business and life and the extent of the impact of the loan on their lives. Hopefully I'll be able to put some of that up here, along with some more pictures (I'm finally ready to take the Canon Rebel out…) and make this a little more interesting…
PS. Here's an interview with Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi who started Grameen Bank and won the Nobel Prize for it in 2006. I haven't listened to it yet, but pretty much anything by NPR is pretty good: