As my fellowship continues to fly by, I’ve had many, many positive experiences, and really only one low point, which I’ll get to after reporting a little on my latest work. I’ve now been at FAPE for two weeks and it’s been fascinating to see the similarities and differences between the two organizations I’ve had the privilege of working with. FAPE is a much smaller organization than Friendship Bridge and FB has access to many more resources, as they are based out of Colorado and therefore have various sources of U.S. support. FAPE is a...Continue Reading >>
My First week in Guatemala and already very impressed! Don’t know where to start because it seems I am here already a while when counting the many adventures I already had!
My long flight from Europe through several US places brought me to Guatemala City in the evening. I was picked up from the airport by a very friendly man called Viktor who brought this exhausted woman to the hostel for me a lovely horizontal rest after being wake 24 hours! The next day the mini-van brought me to Antigua where I had 2 hours to wonder around before leaving to Panajachel. Antigua is a beautiful...Continue Reading >>
This past week Opportunity International-Wedco was able to finally report its loan repayments on Kiva and to its lenders (after pausing during the post-election crisis). Now I can jump into coordinating visits to do journal updates. Special thanks to the sick excel skills of my MPM, Ben Elberger.
I wanted to share a quick funny story from my travels. Many of the fellows have mentioned the various forms of transportation that we get to take around our locations. In Kenya, matatu, tuk-tuk, and boda-boda’s are the transportation staples. Last week I was heading home after leaving...Continue Reading >>
There are a number of things here in Nigeria that are just different enough to bring laughter and puzzlement to my days…
“Oyibo” – Wherever I go, people call out “Oyibo.” Naturally, I initially thought this meant “hello” or served as some sort of greeting. I suppose it is a greeting of sorts, but literally means “white person.” It isn’t an insult, just a way to get my attention and a wave. Generally oyibos remain in Lagos, the business capital, or Port Harcourt, where the oil flows. I’ve seen two other oyibos in my first month here in Benin City – not many. I’m certainly an...Continue Reading >>
Part of the reason I signed up for the Kiva Fellowship was to see how microfinance actually works on the ground. You can read all the books on microfinance, but that couldn’t make up for never seeing it in action with your own eyes. After getting an understanding of AMK’s operations from their nice air-conditioned central office (where I just finished making them an Excel macro to keep better track of their Kiva loans), I knew I had to see the loan officer in action to really understand the pros and cons of microfinance.
Saphanith, Elena and I stopped by Au Village...Continue Reading >>
To see a complete list of MAXIMA’s clients who live in rural areas such as this one, please click here./> Continue Reading >>
Yesterday I was not in a fight, but rather saw my first fight in Uganda. This fight was over a woman – me. However, it was not between jealous lovers. Rather, the fight was between two taxi drivers vying for my fare.
In Kampala, if one doesn’t have a car or is too scared to drive (me), there are two other forms of transportation to get around. One option is to take a boda-boda which is a motorcycle. The other option is to take a matatu which is a shared van that is licensed to carry 14 people, but usually has upwards of 16 people crammed...Continue Reading >>
Microcredit undoubtedly represents a creative and original response to poverty. But I think that somewhere along the way, the innovativeness of the idea seems to have translated into an expectation of novelty and ingenuity for all “small-scale entrepreneurs.” I was reminded of this recently while reading a report published by IBM that described microcredit recipients as “creative” and “entrepreneurial.” While I’m certainly no expert on the subject, my time in the field has reinforced my belief that microloans do not generally enable budding entrepreneurs to realize innovative business...Continue Reading >>
1. Tajiki-what?: Being an American in Tajikistan means that you are in a country that few of your compatriots have ever heard of, let alone traveled to. You are a curiosity everywhere you go and the lack of Westerners gives you the opportunity to act as kind of a mini-ambassador, answering all of questions that Tajiks have been waiting, sometimes their whole lives, to ask an American. Especially in the small towns, I attract a crowd of onlookers whenever I’m conducting an interview with a Kiva client, gawking at me as if I’ve just arrived from the moon....Continue Reading >>
I’m regularly taken aback by the beauty that I witness all over Cambodia. However, I am hesitant to write this blog for one reason: I could never fully recount the beauty of the landscape, people, and culture, neither through words nor photographs. Life in Cambodia has been surprisingly humbling and incredibly rewarding, so I hope that I can convey at least a glimmer of my experiences of the country. I’ll do my best to highlight a few of the aspects of Cambodian life and culture which I most appreciate.
Cultural Persona: Pride, cheer, concord –...Continue Reading >>