Can you hear me now?

A few weeks ago, I received a call on my cell phone and realized it was from Madagascar. I picked up and heard this woman say: “Alison! Voavoa?” It was my friend Bory. She was calling me to tell me how excited she was to have bought her first cell phone. When I told some friends about this call, I tried to relate just how surreal it felt to be getting a call on my cell from Bory. This was a woman who, when I first met her, was earning money washing other people’s clothes. She was living in a one room mud house with her five children and husband. She was illiterate and had never gone to school. This definitely was not the type of woman you would picture in a Verizon commercial.

When I called her back later, she explained that she wanted to talk to me about helping her with her business. She wanted me to buy and resell the silk scarves that she and her mother weave. I told her that I would get back to her about this. 

I don’t exactly know how to deal with this request. If the other women see that all it takes is a phone call to Alison for more money to come in, then won’t they just follow suit? Yet, maybe they won’t. The other businesses that we are lending to are not the type of trans-Atlantic businesses that can expand through exports. Bory’s is. More power to her for knowing where the really lucrative market for her goods is. We’ll see…….

As I talked to her, I just kept laughing at her jokes. She is known as the clown in her family. At the end of the conversation, she asks me: “What time is it there?” I tell her it’s 11AM. “Oh my gosh, it’s almost night time here. That is so funny.” She couldn’t understand why there should be this time difference. Then she tells me: “Now, I can call you all the time. No need to wait for those letters that take so long.” I smile. Finally, Madagascar is starting to feel less and less far away from my life here.