Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Featured Volunteer: Hugo Reyes dedicates his time and skills to Kiva

"Kiva works to break the cycle of poverty, and I hope to see more people get involved in making loans." -- Hugo Reyes, Kiva volunteer

City: Williamsburg, Virginia

Language: Spanish

Team: Los Habaneros

Time with Kiva: 3 years

Outstanding contributions to Kiva:
Hugo has not only been a former Team Leader for Los Habaneros, but he's a consistent, reliable translator for the Review and Translation Program. He's set a personal goal of translating a total of 3,000 loans by his birthday in January -- a reachable goal that we don't doubt he'll accomplish!

Here's a short Q&A with this remarkable volunteer:

How did you find out about Kiva?

I heard about Kiva through a PBS podcast. They told the story of a woman in Africa who needed a new peanut grinder. Like many Kiva borrowers, she couldn’t get support from normal banking institutions, but because of a Kiva loan, she was able to get a new grinder. I started lending on Kiva, and often wondered how the loans got to the Kiva website. I found out that I could volunteer as a translator and started translating in September 2009.

Why did you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?

Kiva is different from other charitable organizations because they’re not giving handouts. They’ve created a loaning program and what I like about it is that along with the loans, Kiva’s Field Partners oftentimes provide training and education. This allows borrowers to learn for the first time how to manage their business. I loved being a volunteer Team Leader, and have been inspired to transfer some of what I did for Los Habaneros to my daily professional work. I’ve even started a Kiva account for my office and we’ve pooled money to make a few loans.

What is your favorite partner or region?

I have a soft spot for Mexico (and all of Latin America) because my family is from there. I’ve translated for and also made a number of loans to Mexican borrowers.

Tell us about a memorable profile you have encountered.

One of the first loans I translated was for a woman in Bolivia. The simple description consisted of short sentences, but they were very clear and concise. This woman lost her home, barn and livestock when flood waters rushed through, and she barely made it out herself as she grabbed whatever she could. The story was so tragic and very touching.

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?

I like to travel to different parts of Europe, and of course to Mexico to see family. There was a long period in which I didn’t get back to Mexico, and I think becoming a Kiva translator played a part in why I started making a yearly trip there in recent years. When I travel, I like to stay away from resorts and touristy spots. Everyone wants to use their English with you and I like to get away from that and really experience the culture of a place.

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.

I have an on-going project to create a room in my house for model trains and railroading. The models are so detailed that if you take a close-up picture of them, you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was the real thing or not from the picture. 

Photo provided by Hugo Reyes, volunteer translator.

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