Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pen Pals: Letters from American Students to a Kenyan Borrower

Recently, a Kiva borrower in Litein, Kenya received letters from a group of 4th graders from the Charles River School in Dover, Massachusetts. Not only were the students interested in the life of this entrepreneur, but they also collectively made loans through Kiva! Our staff visited Kiprono in Litein, showing him the children's letters. He was emotionally moved and so thankful for their generous loans. Following is a detailed account of Kiprono and his life in Kenya, including his correspondence with the Charles River School students.

Kiprono Chirchir is 25 years old. He has been practicing mixed farming for three years, but specializes in dairy farming and small-scale tea cultivation. He sells his milk through Kenya Cooperative Creameries. He received a loan through Kiva of $1,000 to purchase a chaff cutter and build a zero-grazing unit, or a roomy pen, for his cows. When the Kiva staff in Kenya and Kiva Field Partner, Juhudi Kilimo, approached Kiprono with letters from the group of students from Massachusetts, he was thrilled and very touched. The letters from the children included various questions, such as, how many cows he owns and their names, what he studied in school, and why he works and farms in the dairy business. Kiprono responded with facts about his borrowing group (15 members who borrow from the local MFI, Juhudi Kilimo), his family, and growing up in Kenya.Above, Kiprono reads a letter from a 4th grade student. Below is a letter he sent to them with answers to their questions. The students explain in their lender profile on Kiva's website that they "loan because they have the means to help those who wish to help themselves, and they wish to make a positive change in the world around them." Kiva would like to thank the 4th grade class, and remind our community that people of all ages have the power to lift individuals out of poverty and into the small business world!To learn more about what teachers can do to engage their students in Kiva's philosophy and efforts to alleviate poverty, visit us here.