Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yay, Rosario!

Rosario Coronado is a cheesemaker in Nicaragua. I like cheese. I'd probably like Nicaragua. So on that basis, I contributed to her Kiva loan request back in February and she just paid it off yesterday. That gives her a better repayment record than anyone in my FAMILY (three loans outstanding with the Bank of Big Sister, one of them for nearly 5 years). I immediately reloaned the $25 chunk to Delfina, an herbal medicine maker in Ayacucho, Peru.

I have a strange relationship with Peru. I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2006 and saw a particularly bitter form of poverty. I dropped change out of my pocket, and old ladies swarmed to pick it up and run away with it. I dealt with 12-year-old stall vendors who pouted and sneered at my attempts to bargain (I hate doing that, but for god's sake they were charging more than the airport for something half as nice!). I had a shoeshine boy inflate the price of his unwanted services by a factor of 25 (I agreed to a factor of 15 and still felt fleeced). I gave money to a few beggar kids - 30 cents, which had the buying power of $1 there - who bitched me out for not giving them more, until I threatened to take the coins back. The camp porters while on the trek had to stand guard over us at night because the locals would steal our shoes or worse if no one was watching. I do not like bargaining with people who sleep one layer above dirt, but I also don't like having them laugh at another stupid American for paying a week of their wages for a piece of pottery. I felt like shit for being shoved into a position where I resented and deplored the seriously poor, thanks to the palpable, unabashed disdain of said poor.

As such, I have no interest in returning to their country. I won't even consider pan-South American tours that include Peru. However, I will help from a distance and hope that I'm lending to people who don't secretly despise the source of their funding. What can I say? I think it's disgusting that the descendants of one of the greatest empires of the New World have been brought so low. So to Delfina the Medicine Maker and Estela the Grain Seller (due to complete her loan in a couple of weeks) - you go, girls!

1 comment:

Chris F. said...

I've generally preferred to help people who are in my local area. I am somewhat distrustful of charities in general although there are some specific ones I like. But for the most part, if it involves a global matter, I donate through my church or to missionary work.