Wednesday morning was a blast. I had to get up at 5 and get ready to go into the field alone. It was my first time to go alone, but I had set up a meeting with some of the clients from one of the centers in town so I could do a few extra interviews. I had never been to the center, so when I reached the junction the center was at I had to start asking for directions. The first woman I asked was carrying a bucket of popoffs (fried dough balls) and was on her way to the market. She grabbed my hand (holding hands is very common here), and led me to the bottom of a hill. She spoke to a...Continue Reading >>
In honor of the brilliant Tanzanian posts: http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2008/10/10/you-know-you%E2%80%99re-in-tanzania-when%E2%80%A6vol-iii/
You know you’re in Bosnia when…
1. Any healthy foods must always be accompanied by sausage.
2. Your coworkers refer to annoying things as “liver” because “they cause the liver to feel pain.”
3. People mix their wine with coca cola.
4. The most popular musicians are over the age of 40, and are usually accompanied by accordions.
5. Pizzas are baked without tomato sauce, but you...Continue Reading >>
but I make tamales
I spend most of my time meeting small business owners who have received funds through ADMIC, the local non-profit microfinance institution, using Kiva funds. I have this opportunity to enter people’s homes and hear them talk about the development of their businesses. Yesterday I met three women who make and sell tamales.
While the tamale recipe isn’t necessarily complex it is labor intensive. The spreading of the masa into the corn husks alone takes muscles that aren’t put into play by those of us who labor over a computer. As the cooks in my...Continue Reading >>
“We thought you were a Muslim from Togo,” the Director of Alidé told me on the way out of the Benin airport.
“Pardon?” I asked, wondering if I had heard correctly.
“You see,” he explained, “Lawson is a common Togolese name, even sometimes a Beninese one, and in West Africa Sarah is usually a Muslim name. So I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.”
I explained to him that Lawson was originally English in my case. M. Valère Houssou, the Director of the NGO Alidé in...Continue Reading >>
By Cynthia McMurry, KF5 Peru
When FINCA staff interview clients to write their Kiva profiles, the last question each client is asked is “What are your dreams for the future?” As I looked at the profile of FINCA client after FINCA client, I was struck that almost everyone had some variation of the same three dreams:
1) “For my children to graduate with professional degrees” or “For my children to get a good education.” 2) “To open my own store” (for ambulatory vendors), “To open another store,” “To expand my store,” or “To offer a wider variety of merchandise in my...Continue Reading >>
Language is said to be the thing that separates man from animal. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow. It is also the way in which we can most easily communicate our deepest thoughts and desires with another. It is a tool that we use to bridge us together.
Yet since I have arrived in Ghana, I have begun to define language in an entirely new way. It is a constant ebb and flow of words and understanding. It is a roller-coaster ride of gerunds and participial phrases that mean all...Continue Reading >>
I’ve been in Azerbaijan for just over six weeks now, but I this is my first blog post since my arrival.
I haven’t known what to say, really. It’s not that I’ve been awed into silence by the exoticness of this Caucasus nation. I live in Baku, and we have six McDonald’s (so I hear — I’ve managed to visit two). Anyplace with that many McDonald’s fails some kind of exoticness test somewhere. Well, maybe if it was Japan and there was shrimp-burger on the menu, but the most exotic thing you can order at my McD’s is a MacArabic...Continue Reading >>
Across from DINARI Foundation’s office, there is a large concrete lot with two long warehouses lining the perimeter. In the middle of the lot, blue tarps covered three mounds that were perhaps fifteen feet in diameter. In the morning, workers removed the tarps, revealing piles of what looked like sand as high as the men’s waists. Two of the men wheeled out mechanized plows and bulldozed the piles, gradually spreading the material across the concrete in messy spirals. A third worker appeared with a bandanna covering his nose and mouth,...Continue Reading >>
In the past week I have met with almost 50 clients, which is way more than I met in the previous six weeks combined. I should feel inspired and excited by that accomplishment, but I mostly feel tired and battered. That’s because all of the clients I met with were BORING! I’m not exaggerating – I didn’t have one interesting interview. At least, that’s what I thought in the days surrounding the visits….
When I meet with clients, I ask a bunch of questions about their business, family, and personal...Continue Reading >>
My mother grew up during WWII. She can make a little go a long way. But she’s no match for the Vietnamese. A couple of nights ago, at my translator’s house, we had chicken.
Not chicken breasts or chicken thighs but chicken vertebrae. The amount of meat on a chicken’s vertebra is virtually nil. Common sense would accurately lead you to such a conclusion. But the...Continue Reading >>