My First Kiva Loan! Meet Essi…

So, my daily browse around Kiva this morning, FINALLY brought my first ever loan!

Her name is Essi and she’s from Togo.

Here’s a description from Kiva:

“This lady was born in Danyi and lives in the Djidjolé neighborhood. She is 29 years old and married with two children in her care.

In order to improve her children’s living conditions, she sells jewelry and flip-flops. She gets her stocks at the Grand market of Lomé and has eight years of experience in this business. She conducts her sales from her home and at the Adidogomé market.”

The things that made this one ‘the one’:

1. She’s from Togo: Long before I ever dreamed about Africa, I kept pet snakes. My favourites were Ball Pythons. I knew that most wild-caught Ball Pythons came from Togo, which is a BAD practice that I don’t support, but it captured my imagination. As a kid in Canada, I couldn’t imagine anywhere where Ball Pythons actually lived in the wild. I’ve been obsessed with Togo ever since, and have supported it at every World Cup. And ‘Togo’ is a really fun word to say.

2. She’s a woman who is about my age. I can relate.

3. What I can’t relate to is that she’s worked very, very hard for 8 years and built up a successful business. She’s a seriously awesome girl.

4. The description hints that the two children she cares for may not be hers. They probably are her biological children, but I like the way it’s worded. People who foster, adopt and love, just rock my socks.

5. Her microfinance institution, ‘Women and Associations for Gain both Economic and Social (WAGES)’, seems pretty solid in their mission. And their interest rate is just 20%, which is well below the Kiva average of 37%.

6. She sells jewelry. Anything that makes people feel beautiful, is uplifting and wonderful.

7. She has the loveliest smile.

8. She may be using the loan to buy jewelry for her business, but she also sells FLIP FLOPS!!! Need I say more?

So here she is, Essi from Togo, my new partner in flip-flop sales:

First Step: Eight things about me that shaped who I am…

1. I am 27. I have been alive for 27 years. At 19, I was told by a doctor at my university that i’d only live to 25. I think she was joking in reference to the fact that my diet consisted nearly entirely of doughnuts. I hadn’t eaten a vegetable since early childhood. But anyway, if I end up living to the respectful age of 54, then my life is already half-over. So here at 27, my mid-life crisis is in full swing. I’m embracing it.

2. Today i’ve reformed my eating habits to an extent. Despite living for nearly 25 years on a diet of sugar and sugar, with people always telling me, “Oooh, i’m warning you, when you hit 13 (or 16, 18, 21) it’ll all catch up with you”, I weigh the same now as I did when I was 12.
3. I have lived in at least 30 houses in my 27 years. In every single house since I was 3, without fail, as soon as I moved in, I determined which spot in the house would be most appropriate to hide in during a) a T-Rex attack and b) a velociraptor attack. In my current house, a) is in the back garden, between the fence and the house. If you don’t move, T-Rex can’t see you and I think he’d get hurt if he tried to squeeze into the space. It just wouldn’t be worth his while. B) To hide from a velociraptor, i’d hide in the attic in the space above the garage. If it managed to get into the attic, I could drop into the garage and stand a greater chance of survival. As i’ve grown up, i’ve realized that if the velociraptors have made it into your house, your situation is pretty much hopeless. Growing up can be so soul-crushing.
4. When I was a child, I was obsessed with dinosaurs. All of my walls were plastered with dinosaurs. All my clothes had dinosaurs on them. People thought I was a boy. The first word I ever spelled was Tyrannosaurus Rex. I could spell that before I could spell my own name. I’m not being sarcastic. This is true. Ask my parents.
(This guy is a real candidate for ‘Creepy Santas‘)

5. Until I was 12 and I visited the NASA space centre in Florida, I firmly believed I had been to Mars. I should have known better, but it’s just not something I ever thought through critically. When I was about 3, my parents took me to the CN tower in Toronto, where they had one of those simulator rides, to ‘Mars’ of all places. I thought it was real and no one ever corrected me. When people would talk about space exploration, I never understood why they thought it was so difficult. The portal is right there in downtown Toronto. I’ve been to Mars, you can too. What’s the big deal?
6. My earliest childhood memory: When I was 2, I took at ride in a helicopter. The floor was glass, but I thought it was just open to the air below. I was worried that my grey boots were going to fall into Lake Ontario.
7. When I was a baby I had sticky-out ears. I had plastic surgery when I was 4 and in junior kindergarden. I can remember having a bandage around my head just like the child in the hospital logo, which made me feel extra special. I also remember being put under anesthetic for the surgery. I was told the gas would smell like cherries. It smelled like mint. I remember screaming ‘it’s mint! i’m allergic to mint!’. Then I woke up with ears that society was more likely to accept. Today, whenever i’m forced to play ‘two truths and a lie’, I always use ‘i’ve had plastic surgery’.

8. I spent my childhood obsessed with snakes. When I realized I couldn’t own a dinosaur, this was just the next step. My first snake was a black and white California Kingsnake. I think I was 10. His name was ‘Teddykaapingubear’, because I wanted to call him ‘Teddy Bear’, but equally I wanted to name him after my favourite cartoon snake, ‘Kaa’, and Pingu, because Pingu was also black and white. I was a smart kid. Teddykaapingubear was the first of about 20 pet snakes.