Every day that I’m in Uganda brings some new remarkable experience. Yesterday was a loan repayment day. So you can see me helping to count the money. This is a cash economy so our borrowers bring cash for their repayments and with 75-150 borrowers in a loan center, it can take some time. We don’t want the ladies to have to be away from their businesses any longer than necessary so we work as quickly as possible to collect the money and record all the appropriate data. Our borrowers work very hard to make their repayments. Currently we have a 97.2% repayment rate!
The borrowers give us the most gracious welcome at each loan center. The Nwoyo Center yesterday greeted us with a song, “welcome TGC, thank you for all you have done for us” and more! It brought tears to my eyes. At each center, I address the groups and encourage them to keep working hard.
The success of this program is not just the loans we give but the strength of these women to work hard to develop their businesses and be able to repay the loans and our goal is not just for them to repay the loans but for them to be successful and truly pull themselves out of poverty. We hear truly amazing stories of how they take care of large families, get the children fed and to school, take care of a husband and run a business in an area with no running water, no electricity, no sewage system and dirt muddy roads they must travel by foot to go anywhere! It’s a tough life and yet they rise to the occasion and do all they can to use the opportunity the loan gives them to improve their lives and the lives of their children. They are very determined to better themselves.
One of the greatest joys during this trip was watching some of our borrower’s who are also in literacy classes, demonstrate their new knowledge by writing their names and reading them aloud! Adult women who have had no opportunity to learn are shut out of society in so many ways and theses classes truly change their world!
They are excited to now help their younger children with their homework, read simple signs along the roadway and write notes to their husband when they leave the house! Simple tasks that we take for granted, up-lifting and empowering them.
Occasionally, we meet the husbands of our borrowers who tell us how much their wives new business means to the family. They will sheepishly confess that initially they were suspicious of the program having seen other loan program which were not supportive of borrowers who were late or missed a payment. They witnessed lenders going to borrowers homes and seizing their possessions in lieu of the payment. They praise our program for our work to support them to solve the problems preventing them from repaying.
This morning I’ve off to another loan center where we’ll conduct refresher training with some borrowers and some leaders.
Sincere thanks to Jim Carey who shot these wonderful photos and is also shooting video for us. More about that tomorrow.