The border by foot There are two bridges that cross the river between Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, called Bridge One and Bridge Two. They have other names, if you look at the signs more closely, something like Bridge of Fraternity and Solidarity or International Friendship Bridge. But everyone here seems to refer to them by their numbers. On a recent Friday night I was one of the only people crossing Bridge One on my way to Laredo, passing a line of informal merchants who looked bored and ready to go home. The last of these was an accordion player propped up sleepily against...Continue Reading >>
“Hello Daniel. How are you? I remember you said that you were willing to help some of my students out with their English lessons and…well, I have a nephew whom I would like you to meet.”
It was 9am on Monday morning. I was drinking Nescafe and checking email, when the MicroInvest English teacher came in to see if I was still willing to fulfill the pledge that I had made the day before to give some of the locals a chance to chat with a native speaker. I was expecting one, possibly two hours of tea with an eager,...Continue Reading >>
Hello all! My name is Mark Disston and I am the newest Kiva Fellow to head to the field. I am writing this on my flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I will be joining Maxima Mikroheranhvatho. Maxima is one of the smallest MFIs in Cambodia but has ambitious plans to expand their services. I have the fortune of teaming up with Amy Killian, the current Fellow at Maxima, whose work most of you have likely already read about (if not, see Straws and Sandpaper – my favorite post).
The past week has been a whirlwind. In quick succession I bought...Continue Reading >>
I proudly remember how for the first 2 years of high school I was considered quite tall and got to stand for the annual class photo. From the 3rd year onwards however I was eclipsed as puberty prevailed in others. From then on I sat in the front row, demurely folding my hands in my lap. Not that I am short – I am 167cm tall – which by western standards makes me an average height. I would also describe my build as average – you will have to take my word for it as I have no intention of publically disclosing any vital statistics! So I pretty much...Continue Reading >>
For the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of data entry. Panith, the AMK Kiva coordinator, and I have been going through all the Kiva business descriptions so that we could enter their account numbers into an excel worksheet. This will allow us to easily track payments of all the Kiva loans. (AMK just got out of pilot stage with Kiva, so they’re still incorporating it into their business.) If I had been doing this for another job I probably would have been bored out of my mind, but going through all the data for three of AMK’s provinces turned out to be quite interesting....Continue Reading >>
I am a WASP – white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. My parents rarely yelled, spankings were rare and more painful for my mother than me and requests were granted only when accompanied by the obligatory “please” and followed by “thank you.” On Sundays my family sat in well-ordered pews quietly listening to sermons, bowing our heads in silent prayers and rising (as directed) to sing hymns from notations in a book. At school my friends and I were scolded for being late in an effort to train us all in the expectations of the culturally dominant WASPs who value time commitments and punctuality....Continue Reading >>
Two weeks ago FAPE launched a new program. After months of fighting bureaucracy, they finally got permission to give loans to female prisoners at the Centro Preventivo de Rehabilitación Santa Teresa (loosely translated, the Santa Teresa Prevention Center for Rehabilitation). The program was kicked off with a weeklong training called ISUN (Inicie su...
There is a lot of talk here and elsewhere as to whether or not microfinance (or any kind of aid for that matter) works. Is what anyone says the truth or just perceptions and opinions? It would be nice to have a definite answer, but it always seems a little more complicated than that.
In my past experience working with volunteers and in nonprofits, I noticed how this lack of certainty over results can trigger...Continue Reading >>
Beep! Beep beep beep! This is the natural sound of the habitat that is downtown Hanoi. There is an endless cacophony of horns – sometimes short and squeaky, other times longer and more insistent. There is no aggression intended – the horn is to warn the pedestrian or cyclist ahead that their motorbike ( more of a scooter really ) or car is bearing down on you and that you should not pick this moment to change direction. Driving in Hanoi should be classified as an extreme sport. Insert small confession – I have actually ridden as a...Continue Reading >>
A week ago, Regina Jose, Hluvuku’s client in Mozambique, received a brand new wheelchair to replace her broken one!!! KivaFriends donated it, and with the help of many people it was bought, transported from South Africa to Mozambique and delivered to her!!
Regina was so happy with her new wheelchair that she even cried! Now she will be able to resume her activities and will go to church on Sundays, something she described as her favorite activity. As I wrote in my last blog, it took just over one month since my first journal about Regina to get all this done. One of Regina’s lenders...Continue Reading >>