Stories tagged with All

Jan 1, 2009 KH Cambodia

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve explained the concept behind Kiva to family, friends, and people I’ve met along the way, but each time my explanation is slightly different.

This is because Kiva is really quite difficult to explain. It incorporates frightfully odd concepts such as microfinance, acronyms such as MFIs, faux acronyms (“what does K.I.V.A. stand for anyhow?”), frequently confused verbs “lend” and “borrow”, crossovers between banking and charity, international flows of money, interest and yet no...

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Dec 12, 2008 BJ Benin

Abozu with Abby and I of "Why I can't give Abozu my Camera" blog fame

I spent the weekend in Lomé, Togo with Abby Gray, another Kiva fellow at WAGES. Wages is basically like Alide in a few years: larger, and with a deeper relationship with Kiva. To get to Togo, I had to cross the border from Benin to Togo alone, which was just a little bit more harrowing and stressful than was necessary between two small, relatively stable countries. I decided to go to Togo on...

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Dec 12, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

It’s 5am and the electricity has just come back on here in my Khujand apartment. I know because the sheet metal of the ‘70’s era space heater plugged into the wall has started to creak and crack as it warms. I’m not typically up at this hour but it’s D-day – my departure – and I’m anxious to get started on the 3 day, 5 country journey back home. Today Tajikistan to Uzbekistan, tomorrow Uzbekistan to Moscow to Amsterdam, and finally Amsterdam to… America.

...

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Dec 12, 2008 HN Honduras

Christmas in Honduras sunny and delicious. Christmas parties are everywhere, and come with very royally dressed women and scantily dressed girls. Office beauty pageants. The days are a warm 80 degrees, toasty not humid. I’m eating Tres Leches cake like my heart is made of iron, not soft, susceptible tissue.

I can’t get enough of the Christmas trees. Like everything here, color is supreme.

Christmas Tree in Prisma's Office

Don’t forget that they don’t grow...

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Dec 12, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

I had been planning for today’s lasagna lunch since the second week of my fellowship when one my colleagues asked if I could make his favorite dish from the U.S. How could I say no? This man had picked me up at the border, arranged my housing, and even helped me secure a SIM card and cell phone, among countless of other tasks. Lasagna was the least I could do, right? Right? In the end the lasagna required more than 10 trips to various stores and the efforts of approximately 12 people, in three countries.

When I...

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Dec 12, 2008

Today is my last day in Bosnia, the first of my Kiva placements.

I have committed a year to volunteering with Kiva, and I initially hoped to write a book about the experience.  Last August, I imagined myself sitting on a street corner in Kenya, smoking cheap cigarettes.  Poor children would laugh in the distance and I would sigh, reflectively, finally understanding the meaning of it all.  I would walk down the street with a child on my back, high-fiving locals and getting a thumbs-up sign from the local nurse.  My eyes would turn that perspicacious blue, seen only in the eyes of...

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Dec 12, 2008 UA Ukraine
Storm clouds are gathering in Eastern Europe.  Ukraine, Hungary, and Iceland share the news headlines as the wold’s foremost victims of the global financial crisis.   Political infighting and tensions with Russia, along with a severely declining steel industry have deepened the effects across Ukraine.   There is a silver lining, but more on that later.    

In the western world, “political tensions” essentially mean that 24-hour cable networks switch to all politics, all the time.  In Ukraine, due to “political tensions” between local officials, last...

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Dec 12, 2008 VN Vietnam

Yesterday I met Mr. and Mrs. Phung, their two children and their granddaughter. The Phungs run a bicycle repair shop. It is a small shop on a partially paved, pot-holed street on the outskirts of Thanh Hoa City, Vietnam (150 kilometers south of the capital, Hanoi). Had it been a few houses further down the street, Mr. and Mrs. Phung would have enjoyed views over the rice paddies.

...

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Dec 12, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

(with apologies to Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King)

1. Cats are great city animals.

Cat on car.

At one time, Baku was rat country, so I’ve been told. Someone decided to fix the problem by either introducing cats to the streets or firing all the cat-catchers. You don’t see many rats around nowadays.

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Dec 12, 2008 TG Togo

By now, the living room with blue velvet couches really does feel like home. My Togolese family members who welcome me when I walk in the house are happy to see me. They call me ta-ta, then we slap hands with a finger-snap at the end (the Togolese really love that snap – I wonder who did it first, us or them?). The adorable 1-year old, Leona, runs up with her nose crinkled in a big smile, no longer wide-eyed in fear as she was when she first saw this bizarre-looking stranger. Then I drop off my bag in my room and they...

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