ASAN is a blog of Adrian's adventures! (Formerly a Peace Corps Blog) "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain
In this post, I’ll give a snapshot of some of the work from the past week at the local credit unions (or here know as financial ”cooperativas” or ”coops”), the Cooperativa Ycua Bolaños (focuses mostly in agricultural) and Cooperativa Coopeduc, (both commercial and agricultural) and also at a middle school where I started teaching English as a secondary project. The coops are two of my main business contacts I’ll be working with.
This picture below from a mural on a wall at the Cooperativa Ycua Bolaños shows many of the main functions of a financial cooperativa. In general, a Paraguayan financial coop serves as a non-governmental non-profit credit union or bank made up of associates who voluntarily work together towards a common goal of social and economic benefit.
After paying a low and easily manageable monthly fee (a few dollars) to become an associate, he or she becomes the principle owners of the credit union and also votes and decides policy matters and on who will manage the coop, similar to stock holders. Basically, a coop functions as a bank that give out micro-credit loans with very low favorable interest rates and provides high interest returns in saving accounts for its associates.
Coops also provide social services to the associates and their families in forms that often go beyond what a typical bank does in the USA, i.e., it will provide money and support for a wide array of family events such as: birth of a child, adoption, a family death, wedding, quinceanera, surgery, doctor visits, college tuition, etc. In other words, the coop serves as a crucial type of insurance and stability in communities that need such services especially because they might be lower-income or the government cannot provide these services or does so in a limited way. They are critical aspects of most major cities in Paraguay
On another note, my co-workers ALWAYS offer me tereré which I do LOVE- ha. It is the national drink, along with mate, of Paraguay. I’ll have a post dedicated to just this soon, but it is a drink with cold water and natural herbs that is very refreshing especially on a HOT day, which is most of the time in Paraguay.
It’s always served in this type of cup and metalic straw and the same cup is shared in a circle with friends. Cold water is in the larger container, together its called an ”equipo”. Mate is basically the hot version of the drink with different herbs and in a similar style cup. The drinks have a bit of a bitter taste but it is balanced by the fact that tereré is refreshing and mate warms you up on a colder day (more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terer%C3%A9). EVERYONE drinks these drinks almost ALL THE TIME in just about EVERYWHERE in Paraguay, haha. Try it, they’re great! =D
The picture below shows my second class of English at the private school San Jose! I didn’t know this coming down and did suprise me, but all Paraguayans in particular, more so than other countries, are actually quite apt in learning many languages as they are raised learning already both native Guarani and Spanish fluently, and in some cases even Portuguese, given that Brazil borders PY.
Paraguayans are often tri-lingual, similar to Europeans. So there really is a strong desire and need to learn English here. So although teaching English is a secondary project for me, it is a great way for me to meet more people and get a step into the door in the community.
Well, thanks for visiting my blog today, come back every Monday for my weekly update! =D Have a great week everyone!!