Nice Guy Loan Collector

11 Dec

Woman in Myanmar with tattooed face
In some places in Chin State, women have tattooed faces. Legend says the practice started hundreds of years ago to discourage raiding kings from stealing beautiful young girls. But as this photo shows, it is not easy to eradicate beauty.

Nice Guy Loan Collector

David’s 4th Blog from Myanmar

Dear Friends,

Micro-credit, when done properly, can be a huge blessing to very poor people who, with a small business loan, are given an opportunity they would never had otherwise to lift themselves from poverty. Heaven’s Family’s Micro-Loan Ministry, under the very capable directorship of Dan Steward, is the biggest thing Heaven’s Family is doing around the world. Dan and his team, consisting of his wife, Terry, Isaac and Sarah Shepherd, and Jenna Liberati, are touching lives in 13 nations now, and one of those nations is Myanmar.

I brought a spreadsheet with me on this trip that contains the majority of loans that Heaven’s Family has made in Chin State and in the nearby Kalaymyo region. That spreadsheet reflects the data on 142 loans made since 2010, totaling about $450,000. Although that would make it seem as if the average loan has been about $3,000, that is not actually the case. Many of the loans on my spreadsheet were made to groups of village elders, who took their loan, and at our instruction, made smaller loans of a few hundred dollars to trustworthy persons in their villages. Although my spreadsheet doesn’t tell me exactly, I suspect it represents well over 1,000 loans that have helped people either start small businesses or expand their already-existing businesses. Most are agricultural.

The payback rate has been outstanding. If you take into consideration that one loan to a group of village elders can represent as many as 30 loans to villagers, I’ll bet we’re doing better than a 95% repayment rate overall.

My spreadsheet informs me of the status of every loan, and I’ve spent a few days visiting a few delinquent borrowers. All of them have suffered unexpected setbacks, and we’re showing them mercy to various degrees (seeing as how we’re Christians and all) and working out adjusted repayment schedules. They know we love them, and after my visits, they still know it.

Our goal now is to make very strategic loans to remote villages in Chin State that are the source villages for the majority of children in Myanmar’s hundreds of “orphanages.” If we can help those people prosper where they are, they’ll have less incentive to send their children hundreds of miles away to live in “orphanages.” We already have our proof of concept. Now it is just a matter of applying what we know, which is why I am so thankful for our Micro-Loan Ministry team.

Most importantly, our borrowers in many places are now required to be part of “God’s Love Groups” that meet for encouragement, business training, discipleship and evangelism. The goal is world domination under the Lordship of Jesus!

Below are a few photos of blessed borrowers in Chin State, and some miscellaneous photos that I’ve taken during past travels there.

David Servant
Founder and President, Heaven’s Family

Borrower in Myanmar with children, holding elephant foot yam
One of our blessed borrowers, and his two children, who used his micro-loan to grow Elephant Foot Yams, one of which he is holding.

Woman holding big bowl of garlic
A proud borrower with part of her garlic harvest

Woman in front of wooden house in Chin State
This lady used her loan to buy pigs (behind the fence at her right), which she fattens and sells for a profit. Her simple wooden house is much nicer than many I’ve visited in Chin State.

Picture of Chin State village on mountain top
A typical Chin State village, perched on a mountain top. Most villagers are subsistence farmers, but the poor soil of newly-cleared forests can only grow corn for one year, so villagers are trapped in an endless cycle of clearing new land each year to plant corn. Notice that the slope in the foreground has been cleared of trees.

Young boys on trikes made of sticks
Poverty doesn’t limit ingenuity, as illustrated by these downhill trikes made of sticks in the village of Dongva

Mother with her child in Myanmar
Two more beautiful beneficiaries of Heaven’s Family micro-loans

Women gathering fireword in Chin State
Women’s work in Chin State: daily gathering of firewood in order to cook and stay warm at nights

Child sitting on elephant foot yam
Something to be happy about… a great harvest of Elephant Foot Yam by one of our borrowers.

Woman in front of church building in Chin State
Just about every village in northern Chin State has at least one church, and many have several. It is amazing how the gospel has spread to such remote places.

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