Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Colleagues in East Region...A Touching Story

[<=The Gahini Office staff]
[=> The Ngoma Office staff. Gaudiose is far right]
[<= The Rwamagana Regional Office staff ]
[=> Meeting at the Rwamagana Office ]
On Wednesday and Thursday (February 11 and 12), I visited five credit offices in the Eastern Region, where UOB's loan officers meet and invite their clients for group meetings to disburse loans and collect payments. I met a total of 24 colleagues including one regional manager, Beata, four loan officer supervisors, and 19 loan officers, mostly women.

After I talked about economic, social and spiritual aspects of transformation, I asked each and everyone of the people to talk about what they have witnessed in their fields. I heard many touching stories and praise the Lord for His work through these people.

I cannot talk about all stories, but let me share one of them. Here is the story about Esperans from Gaudiose in the Ngoma Office.

Esperans became a widow when her husband died of AIDS. She was left with six children. She had to do men's work to make a living. In this country, no women are doing such hard construction labor work for living. One day, Gaudiose was passing by and found her doing the hard work. She invited her to one of her "Community Banking Group." Reluctantly she came because she did not have any decent clothes she can wear in a public place. But after she found out that the meeting started and ended with prayer, she was so delighted since she stopped going to church because of her poverty. She first borrowed $30. With the loan, she bought some fruits from the farm and started selling them in the market as a peddler. After four months, she paidd the loan back. She then borrowed $60 to expand her business. She paid the loan back also. After several cycles, she has secured a retail store and started a new line of business of selling dairy products in addition to selling the fruits. Now she is borrowing $800.

During the period of two years, she has been able to improve her life tremendously. She now can feed her children without too much trouble and has a store to do the business, without having to go to the market, leaving her young children. She has started going to church again on Sundays. She is an active member of her "Community Banking Group", providing assistance for those who are still struggling. What was so amazing was that she started adopting orphants in the village as a way of sharing the love she has experienced through Urwego, now two but she intends to adopt up to six. In Rwanda, there still are a lot of widows and orphans in the aftermath of the genocide and becausse of the poverty and AIDS. What a blessing it was to witness how God was working in the lives of Esperans. Indeed it is a holistic transformation story through microfinance. Praise the Lord!

I shared my deep gratitude for what they do and I promised to improve their working environment because none of the offices had access to internet or e-mail and they had to carry all their work to remote places for processing. We will soon distribute motorcycles for the offices, but it is not going to be a permanent solution. We are thinking of introducing mobile banking, using a customized bus to go to the towns and villages for their banking. It is another story to be shared later.

They also expressed their gratitude for my coming out to meet them because this is their first experience to meet and talk to the CEO. I promised that I would be more readily available.

Please pray that:

* I will be under God's abundant grace to meet and learn from all credit officers in the field;
* I will be under God's divine wisdom to learn, analyze, and make decision on various issues according to His will; and
* I will be under God's faithful guidance to find ways to bring solutions to many issues. - Jeffrey


Jay Yoon said...

The story of Esperans has captured my heart. I hope the mobile banking is a success.

Jeano (a.k.a. Uncle Ben) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeano (a.k.a. Uncle Ben) said...

Love the pictures!
It is so true of a saying "the picture is worth a thousand words."

I can also imagine...your blog in Kinyarwanda. Eventually, I'm sure.