Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Featured Volunteer: Ekaterina Sukhanova

By: Staci Chirchick, Review and Translation Program Intern

City: New York, NY
Languages: French, Russian
Outstanding Contributions to Kiva: Ekaterina has been a high contributor to the translation teams, translating French loans as well as doing Russian translations. She has also been a huge help to other volunteers on the Volunteer Forum.

How did you find out about Kiva?

I first saw an article about Kiva while leafing through a German magazine on the plane. The headline said something like: “Would you lend this woman 20 Euros?” It grabbed my attention, and I said to myself: “If they are based in the US, why haven’t I heard about them?” So I went online after getting back, and soon made my first loan. I like the Kiva business model, which brings aid directly to the people who need it. Also, just as that headline said, this model allows an ordinary person to see that his or her modest donation is making an impact.

Why did you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?

It’s a great way to use my skills and see the results immediately. Because of my work schedule and other obligations, it is difficult for me to commit to a specific time slot every week. The Kiva system of self-assigned projects works perfectly for me because I can maximize my output in line with the time available. Besides, it makes me feel part of a fantastic team.

From where do you typically review Kiva loans?

I wish I had something cool to say, such as “on the Eurostar train going from London to Paris” or “on the plane from Nairobi to Masai Mara...” In reality, although I’ve done an occasional translation in unusual places (e.g. while waiting around in the jurors’ lounge), I typically translate at home late at night.

What is your favorite partner or region?

Each one adds something to the experience. Some countries I have been to or have colleagues from. Some I would love to travel to. Actually, I hope to see Kiva expand to more countries/regions: Eastern Europe, additional countries in Latin America, Ethiopia…

Tell us about a memorable profile you have reviewed.

There was one profile from somewhere in French-speaking Africa in which an older woman with grown-up children was described as wishing not only to provide for her children’s higher education, but go back to school herself. Given the high school completion rates in the region, I thought this was remarkable – and inspiring.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?

I have been to over 50 countries around the world, but have seen only a fraction of countries where Kiva is present. Now I have a new wish list of travel destinations! It would be great to see the everyday realities we try to describe in the profiles without really knowing them: to try out traditional dishes and beverages, see the clothing…

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.

I can translate from Bulgarian! Whenever Kiva decides to expand in Bulgaria, you know how to find me!