Monday, January 23, 2012

Featured Volunteer: Margaret Wolfe-Roberts

By Lindsay Monnet, Review and Translation Program Intern

"I'm proud to be part of a community that will respect and accommodate differences."

Asheboro, North Carolina
Language: Spanish
Team: Magnificent 7
Time with Kiva: Since June of 2010

How did you find out about Kiva?
I was researching terminology online as I often do for my work as a professional interpreter/translator and ran across an untranslated Spanish loan description with Kiva. I thought, “I could help with that!”

Why do you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?
I love the way that translating for Kiva pops me out of my own reality into another so easily. Whether it’s discovering that solar energy systems are huge among coffee farmers in Guatemala, tracking down exotic birds on the Internet, or diving into a stunningly beautiful and seemingly endless photo-stream of traditional textiles and handicraft, I feel I’m on a magic carpet ride every time.
I also highly value the community among volunteers and staff, and the strong sense of connection I have with all of you “through the ether.” The cool Kiva drinking bottle when I hit 200 loans was a plus, too.

From where do you typically review Kiva loans?
My desk at my home office. I have a large south-facing window which is often sunny and looks out onto a beautiful river birch.

What is your favorite partner or region?
I like them all. I’m a member of the atheist/humanist lending group, so I have just started looking at the field partners more individually from that angle. But I appreciate any group focused on improving people’s access to resources: financial, social and personal.

Tell us about a memorable profile you have reviewed.
My most remarkable loan translated was to a person who appeared to have an intellectual disability. He has a business sewing Lycra pants for children. It reminds me of the time some friends carried a man in a wheelchair up two flights of stairs to a party. Similarly I admire women in non-traditional businesses such as the widow who runs an auto-parts store, and several loans recently discussed on the volunteer forum involving transgendered borrowers. I am inspired by a spirit of inclusiveness. I enjoy seeing people who fall outside the norm in some way making contributions to society, and I’m proud to be part of a community that will respect and accommodate many types of differences.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?
That’s a tough one since there are a whole lot of places I haven’t been yet. Perhaps it would be all the interpersonal and intrapersonal journeys that seem to take on greater importance as years go by.

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.
I also volunteer as a mediator in court for cases between individuals, in both Spanish and English. It’s tough to say which I enjoy more—helping Kiva revolutionize global financial structures or empowering parties in conflict to resolve their differences successfully—they are both wonderful in their own way!

Photo provided by Margaret Wolfe-Roberts, Volunteer Translator