Late November / Early December 2009: Lee Ferrier, a JWOC volunteer, spoke to scholarship student Chankakda and accompanied her during her weekly volunteering with the Microfinance project. Here is what he wrote about his experience…
I accompanied Kakda when she went into the community as a project worker in the JWOC micro- finance project. Her duties this day were to meet the loan recipients, collect from them their required weekly payments, and to discuss any problems they were having with their businesses.
Kakda is a scholarship student in her 4th year at university majoring in English literature. She is a 26 year old qualified school teacher who wishes to pursue a career as an English teacher at a private school or university.
It is hard not to be impressed with her dedication and hard work. She is employed as a teacher at two schools from 7.30 am to 6.00 pm and attends her university classes from 6.00 to 9;00 pm, all of this 6 days a week. On Sundays she volunteers at JWOC.
Kakda told us that the project not only provides loans, but also holds workshops to help loan recipients learn good business practices and money management. They also learn to set goals and, in cases of group loans, to solve problems in group discussion.
We were scheduled to visit three recipients, but only needed to visit two, because the other had dropped by the JWOC community center to make her required payment. Her business was selling used clothing at a local market – the loan enabled her to buy clothes for resale.
We visited a “group recipient” – first time borrowers are required to borrow as a group and all must take responsibility to pay off the loan of the group. The loan payment was made without a hitch. The meeting, which included the recording of the payment and providing a receipt record to the borrower, was conducted in a friendly but business-like manner. In this case the borrowers were a husband running a hand laundry business, his wife running a small street-side café, and a neighbor working as a self-employed metal worker, who needed a small loan to pay for gas for his motorbike so he could go to job sites to do his work.
Kakda credits Michèle, the Project Manager, and Andrew and Camilla, the JWOC Directors, for the effective administration of JWOC, and the guidance and assistance they provide to the scholarship student volunteers – all in the pursuit of assisting the community. Kakda says she too is learning about money management, good business practices and the setting of priorities and goals. She plans to continue giving back to her community. After completing University, while pursuing her career as an English teacher, she wants to volunteer in the management of an NGO — relying on her experience gained at JWOC.
I do not doubt for a moment that she will do it.