When I asked Vichika what her ambition was she replied that she wanted to set up a store to sell things to people in the area.
“How much would that cost?”
“Two thousand dollars.”
“What can you do with 200 as the Down in the Dumps fund doesn’t have that much?”
On Wednesday Nick took Brad, Ross and I to the dump. I didn’t want people to know exactly how much money I was giving her so I rolled it up and tucked the two $100 bills in her shirt pocket.
“Damn, I missed that,” said video-toting Brad. So we shot it again, but someone moved in the way. He captured our first micro-loan on the third take. Down in the Dumps is now officially in the money lending business. Thanks to a donation from Bill – a guy that I’ve known since about 1976 – the fund now stands at $674.74. That is almost a proverbial fortune in the Kingdom.
As soon as the store is operational Vichika is going to call us so we can go and check it out. Happy snaps to follow. Len, Vichika’s younger sister, wants to buy a coffee-cart, which costs about $300. There is enough money in the fund to cover it so I asked her to draw up a business plan and give me an idea of the patch she would work.
The only way to get the women at the dump – the men are totally useless – out of abject poverty is to offer some hope and a viable way of making a living. The theory is that they will repay the money and it will just keep recycling to the next micro-loan. It will be a bit of book keeping on my part, but I figure me and my calculator are up to the challenge.
We took two 50 kg bags of rice for the 24 girls and women in the photo exhibit/auction. They were happy with the gift. Life at the dump truly is basic.
Other Dump News
Sandie is an Ausstralian woman who volunteers with CHOICES, an organization like Down in the Dumps that doesn’t have any overhead administration. The work is done by volunteers so all the money goes to those who need it. She phoned and asked if it was okay for Nick to take some British people to the dump. Yes, of course, it is not as though it is “my” dump or that anyone needs permission.
Richard rang to ask if there was anything they could do. “Yes, send Vichika’s grandmother to the clinic.” The 80 or so year old lady was sick and couldn’t walk when we were there the day before. Instead, Richard took her there. Once there was a white face on the scene the medicine that would have cost about $6.50 for a Cambodian suddenly sky-rocketed to $65. But Richard happily paid for it and we are glad he did.