Our last post described Camille’s journey to West Bengal. Today, she takes us to Mizoram in North-eastern India on her mission to assess the impact of Milaap’s loans. Over to Camille…
No break for a fellow! After our visit to DCBS in West Bengal, we landed in Aizawl, capital of Mizoram situated on the border of Bangladesh. There, we met WSDS’s team, another field field partner of Milaap based in Manipur but which recently opened a new branch in Aizawl.
WSDS provides income-generation loans; loans meant for generating employment and economic activities.
I was extremely surprised by the organization and their efficiency. They were extremely helpful and their commitment to us was beyond compare. Last but not least detail, they were amazingly kind and generous with us. I am glad I was able to meet them and discuss our mission with them.
I had to accomplish the same mission as in West Bengal – to interview the borrowers in order to assess Milaap's loan impact.
Me (centre), during an interview with Alfred (on left), member of WSDS, and with my temporary translator, Vanlalmuani (right)
Again, I met about 9 women in 2 days. Their profiles were utterly different from the other borrowers I met in West Bengal. They aren’t living in the same context of extreme poverty. Most of them live in rather spacious and well-equipped houses, with electricity and water. More surprisingly, majority of them also possess a TV and fridge. Despite these differences, they share one similarity with the women from West Bengal - not only do they have the same ambition to improve their family’s living conditions but they are also working hard to reach their goal. And, I’m proud to have met these admirable women.
They have invested their loans in different small businesses such as piggery, poultry, tailoring or Peggy shops, to name a few.
6 months ago, Lalhuthangi bought this new sewing machine; thanks to a Milaap loan
The Mizoram branch was getting developed earlier this year, the first loans were disbursed only 6 months ago. Therefore, the direct impact of loans can’t be completely assessed yet, as it’s actually a much longer process. For example, several women have invested in appliances or furniture after disbursement of the loan. But how these purchases are linked to Milaap’s loan? And, the additional income obviously was not sufficient enough to cover for these goods.
My personal opinion is that these new incomes have instilled trust in themselves and their future. They now enjoy some noticeable additional income that enables them to diversify the meals they cook for their family or comfortably cover small daily expenses (electricity bill, food, medication, school fees etc). But the money they use for these important purchases (or at least a part of it) was already present as savings. I believe the main impact for the moment is a psychological impact. Since they were probably feeling safer and more financially secure, they took the plunge.
I am simply eager to hear about them in another 6 months or 1 year. Only thanks to this hindsight, we will be able to observe the real material impact on their lives. Nevertheless, the impact on their mental well-being and their confidence in the future is extremely promising.
This stay was another rewarding adventure and it was definitely extremely fruitful for me. It enhanced my understanding of the fundraising process on the field how Milaap is impacting lives of hundreds directly.
And icing on the cake was Aizawl! The city and its vicinity awed us with it’s by amazing landscapes. I discovered a completely different culture from that of the main land. I spent 3 rewarding days in this marvellous city.
As a Milaap fellow, I had the privilege to travel, discover new landscapes, different culture, and meet exceptional folks who are a lesson for all of us. Most of all, I had the privilege to accomplish my worthy and useful work.
I thank Milaap for giving me an opportunity to be a part of them.
Editor’s Note: Camille, again a big hug from Milaap team for being a part of this wonderful journey. With fellows like you, we’re able to make things happen far and wide. Thanks and Kudos!