Friday, July 15, 2011

Teach a man to fish and charge a fortune for the rod...

I have been trying to wrap my mind around microfinance and how it works. And to be honest it has me somewhat stumped....

I very naively thought that all microfinance loans were given at very low or zero interest.

I was a little more than shocked to find out that the interest rates are extremely high. Apparently the average rates are between 30% - 70% and some are even higher. One company hit the news because they were charging their poverty stricken clients 85% in interest!

I'm not sure why this is, the research I did also states that the default rate on micro finance loans is actually very low, at approximately 1.9%

Let me get this right... help poor people out of poverty by loaning them money to set up a business to earn a living... and charge them a fortune in interest rates?

Am I missing something?

Rose recently told you about one of our blind students Ms Nga and her quest to have a little room of her own. Just a simple place where she can live, socialise and set up her own little business.

We have entered into our first microfinance agreement with Ms Nga and she is now well on her way. Her room is all finished and she's very happy. It's nice for anyone to have a room of their own.

It looks great, and as soon as she has a hundred dollars to buy a massage table (hint, hint) she'll be on her way. She has done very well making her repayments on time.

I never did work out why there was a need for high interest rates.

So we've gone with an interest free loan.

 Hope all's well in your world.

Kind Regards
   Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our very own English Club....

A few years ago, a young Vietnamese friend invited Rose and I to go along with him to his ‘English Club’.  We had never heard the term before. It was a social evening held by a very motivated group of young Vietnamese people. They would meet up each week and spend time together to work on their English language skills. It was well organized, with pre-chosen topics, lively discussion, and a few fun activities, all in English. 

Rose and I had a great time that evening and over the years we have talked about how wonderful it would be for our blind students to have their own English club. It has always been part of the plan.
Well here it is!

I’ve previously spoken with pride at the development of our students' language skills. It’s the truth, they have done so well. It is testament to their motivation and skills, along with dedicated teachers how well they have progressed. Our initial group of students now have the language skills that enable them to converse in English, send emails, and even plan their own English club get together…
Each week our students meet up and spend a few hours socializing, chatting and listening to music, all in English. Our staff members Dat Tran and Hong, select the topic and put together a report after the event. It's worth remembering that neither of them could speak a word of English when we met.

Our teachers and staff also kindly give their time to develop this programme and  to work with the students so that the English club is both social and educational.

The ACCV English Social club  is now well and truly up and running. It includes students from the four language programmes currently running, some students are just beginners,  some are now quite advanced. Nevertheless, they are all learning from each other.

And having a great time too!

kind regards
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)