Summer is a busy and productive time for WMI, both in Buyobo and at its headquarters in Bethesda, MD. For the second summer in a row, high school interns volunteered in Buyobo, Uganda with the WMI loan program. They painted the classrooms in the new primary school buildings that last year's high school interns helped construct. Their wall designs ranged from a detailed map of Africa to the solar system. The interns taught math and English to students in grades P6 and P7 (the equivalent of sixth and seventh grades).
Through the generosity of its donors, WMI collected 500 pairs of eyeglasses in May, which the interns sorted by prescription and distributed to the teachers and borrowers in the loan program. WMI in Buyobo also welcomed George Washington University anthropology professor, John Finch, who helped improve the WMI Internet Café, which serves the village and which was started by last year’s high school interns. He interviewed village elders and is preparing a history of Buyobo and written record of how the WMI loan program has changed the economic opportunities for families in the district. Jackie Vourthius, a 2010 business major from UMD spent several months in the village teaching WMI’s local director how to automate loan program documents. Erin Kelly, a 2010 UMich graduate, is in Buyobo through July interviewing borrowers and making a short documentary film about their businesses. She is assisted by Ida Stuve, a third year student at University of Ediburugh in Scotland. In Bethesda, 8 college inters are analyzing borrower data and preparing an updated fact book on loan program impact, while two high school interns are updating the web site and researching micro finance issues.
On the expansion front, WMI is excited to announce the addition of a new loan hub in Shikokho, Kenya. Two more loan hubs (in Gulu and Kisese, Uganda) are on the horizon. Their addition will bring WMI’s total loan hubs to 10 in the next six months. All of the new hubs will be affiliated with existing community based organizations already operating in rural villages outside of the main towns in these areas. This helps ensure a solid local infrastructure to support new borrowers and ensure that the local women administering the program have sponsors right in the village who can provide input and guidance. The WMI loan program is thriving and expanding because of generous public support and WMI is so grateful to all of its donors. With your help, we are changing the face of poverty, one loan at a time.
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