This morning we met our friends from REST (a local NGO that has helped us with all our projects at the Zata School) to discuss giving micro-finance loans to residents of the Zata community. Our first stop was a home near the school where a local priest and his family lived. He and his wife have six sons, the four middle ones are currently attending the Zata School. Currently they farm several acres of land and grow crops that they use to feed their family and sell the left overs at a local market. With the help of a translator we were able to offer them a loan to buy a motorized irrigation pump that will allow them to grow more crops so they can sell them at the local market.
Our next stop was over the hill and down in the valley where many of the local residents have plots of land. We met a farmer and his wife who were working in the field tilling the solid with small hand hoes. They have four sons and one daughter who are all in school. They were also interested in a motorized pump so they could irrigate their land and grow crops that required more water. Currently many of the farmers are growing similar crops like potatoes and corn, but if they could grow tomatoes or fruit they would be able to make more money selling them at market.
Our last stop of the day was to meet with five women who each were interested in loans to help provide for their families. The first woman knew exactly what she wanted – two ox, five sheep and five goats. Done. The next was interested in a pump, the next wanted one ox, the third wanted a water pump, the fourth simply wanted a replacement hose for a pump she already had, The final woman was in her mid 50′s and not sure if she could pay back a loan because of her age. She had plenty of land to farm but she felt that at her age she might not be able to work hard enough to pay the loan. So I asked her if there was something else she could do besides farm. She hesitated and than said there was something she could do but we may not approve it. With the help of our translator we discovered her dream to have a coffee and tea stand. Our friends at REST said that she could make a profit selling coffee and that it was a good idea. We gave her the loan and she began to cry with joy, saying she thought we were angels. Walking back to the school I turned to Laura and said “I could do this every day!” Climbing back into our cars at the school the children began to crowd around us begging us to stay and play soccer with them. Knowing we had a long drive ahead of us we had to settle for big smiles and lots of friendly waves. This too was another best day!