Yesterday we made our way back to Tierra Linda to do more intensive interviews with the three borrower families that we had spoken to in the first couple of weeks. (For more information on our methodology see Chris´s most recent blog post Research Methodology). Unfortunately, when we arrived at the first two borrower´s homes we found out that no one was home and that both had thought the meeting was for the next day.  Frustrated because of the lack of interviews we headed to the third home down the road. We had little hope for this next story because the initial interview had yielded very little. However, this interview turned out to be one of the most eye-opening so far. The difference between the stories that we are getting now and what we found initially is dramatic. Having the time to come back again and again has opened many doors for us.

Ujemia and her husband greeted us warmly and we sat down for a filmed interview under their massive avocado tree. We knew that Ujemia had been borrowing from Grameen since 2007 and that she generally likes the service. However, the interview took a major turn when we began to ask about the recent Hurricane Agatha´s effect on the household. In the last interview Ujemia had said that they had lost a little land. The “little” land turned out to be 75%-85% of their total crop. Due to the torrential rains of the hurricane that happened two months ago, Rio Pana (the major river in the valley) swelled violently, washing acres upon acres of farm land into Lake Atitlan.

Tierra Linda and the dry river bed of Rio Pana
Ujemia´s family is currently living off savings from their last harvest and occasional work that her husband can find as a laborer for other farmers. If the family exhausts their savings without the future profit of crop sales  they may not be able to sow new crops unless they sell off valuable assets. This is exactly what the Portfolios of the Poor speaks about, “Where financial tools are not available, the result can be emergency asset sales; in the worst cases, those sales strip households of them means to earn future income, triggering a downward spiral toward destruction.”

Unfortunately, there are very few financial instruments available to Ujemia and her family. However, Ujemia’s next Grameen microfinance loan of Q4,000, which she will have access to in the next few months, may save them from selling off their most precious assets. With careful planning and budgeting Ujemia’s family may be able to recover from this devastating disaster.

While the intensive interviews have been eye opening they have also been difficult. Delving into the extreme poor´s lives can be an overwhelming process of trying to cope with how much they suffer and my inability to help immediately. Hopefully through these experiences I will learn to harness this feeling in order to devote myself towards finding my own sustainable way to give back.  
10/5/2010 01:21:01 pm

Hello! This is really a great stuff for sharing. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing.

1/13/2011 04:47:15 pm

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.Try to be better than yourself.

5/7/2012 05:11:57 pm

They can generate your family trip really memorable and even budget friendly.

5/10/2012 01:36:07 pm

The post is absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need! Also like to admire the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often.

9/27/2012 07:38:54 am

Great info, thx

10/4/2012 08:01:20 pm

I was really looking for something like this. It has helped me a lot, Keep it up, Thanks!


Leave a Reply.

try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-1429984-4"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}