Friday, August 31, 2007

Anna Air Mail

Anna shows our first piece of mail. A belated birthday card for Ryan (Aug 7) and a welcome to India.
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Ryan is working on getting Anna down for a nap so I have a few minutes to tell you what I got to do last week:

Last Tuesday I went to a slum school started by IID ( . Not many slums have schools. The parents are of a variety of religious backgrounds send their kids to the school because the children are guaranteed a glass of milk and 2 slices of bread to eat, and sometimes more food is available. I was amazed that the little 2 and 3 year olds were sitting quietly on plastic chairs waiting for school to start. Anna did not understand why all the kids just sat there and she wanted them to play with her.

These boys and girls are taught Bible versus, songs, numbers and letters in English and Tamil. They are given chalkboards so they can start practicing writing the 246 Tamil or 36 English letters and numbers. The second picture is of 3 girls singing Jesus Loves Me in Tamil, with motions. It is sooooo cute and humbleing to see children my Anna’s age acting so well behaved.

Then Friday, while Ryan and Anna played I went with Silve, a GOF Client Relationship Officer to see some of her clients and attend two meetings. In the slum area we went to there are over 15 groups, almost 300 women total; at each turn we met another person that Silve knew as a client. Every place I went people were offering me something to eat or drink and a place to sit out of the heat... I really wanted to turn them down, a 5 rupee soda is a lot of money to someone with nothing, but culturally I would be greatly offending them by rejecting their hospitality.
It was fun to see the meetings.
At each meeting they say an oath, (a commitment to each other as a trust group), a prayer is said, attendance taken, there is a check of who paid back their loan and put money into savings, (a member of the group deposits the money at a local bank and shows the deposit slip at the meeting, later GOF transfers out the loan payment portion.) Then a question and answer period, maybe a learning game and what I would call some great comradely. And most important is a 10 minute lesson by the CRO. These lessons are set during the first loan cycle (24 weeks) in later cycles (which last up to 32 weeks and keep renewing as the ladies have need) the CRO chooses topics that she thinks that group needs to hear about. Both groups I attended were made up of women related to each other as moms and daughters, sisters and cousins.

I have one picture attached, but will post more of my pictures at . Now given that we do not want to distribute photos of under dressed children I do not have many of all the children of the clients who are also at these meetings. It makes me proud that the kids see what hard work their mothers are willing to do. Maybe that is because I am a mom too. They can teach their kids how to get out of the slums and do much better in their lives. I want to be a good example to Anna like these women are to their sons and daughters.

Please keep Ryan in your thoughts as he is in Microfinance Training this week.