What originally started as a college senior’s feeble attempt to plan his future has finally become a reality: I am now in Sudan. After a 21-hour flight from Los Angeles to Uganda, three days of waiting in Uganda to get a Sudanese visa, and a one hour (scary) flight from Entebbe to Juba, I finally made it into the country that I will be calling “home” for the next several months.... Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Africa
This is my first post from the field, and, unfortunately, I’m not writing to share an inspiring microfinance success story or even a heartwarming cross-cultural anecdote, as I was hoping I would be. I am writing to tell about a conversation that threw an uncomfortably bright spotlight directly on the basis of my being here in Africa, and the basis of Kiva’s mission itself.
I am stationed in Togo, a tiny West African country that ranks the 13th poorest in the world, with a GDP per capita in 2007 of $167. I am living with a Togolese family, and there is a 26-year old guy...
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People always use toothpicks after meals…you don’t “get off” a bus or Matatu, you “alight” (I have actually never heard this word before)…people make “blunders” instead of “mistakes”…Kenya produces great coffee, but since the domestic demand is rather for tea, most places serving coffee here are surprisingly bad…people love eating meat…when I ask people for directions, they assume that I am utterly helpless and may not make it to where I am going…if my colleagues give me directions, they want me to send them an SMS once I arrive, so that they...Continue Reading >>
Nairobi is a mad, mad place for the unfamiliar visitor. Traffic, pollution, swarms of people…
The simplest, most convenient way to get around is on a Matatu. A Matatu is a little van, almost like a VW bus, except outfitted with seats for 14 people…and sometimes a flat screen TV and Pioneer speakers, which are always pumping some kind of reggae or American hip hop through the little van.
Matatus...Continue Reading >>
My name is David Stewart and I am the Kiva Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya. I am working with Opportunity Kenya, part of Opportunity International. Opportunity just bought Sunlink, a small MFI here in Nairobi. I am here to help the transition and get all of the Sunlink staff on board with this thing from the US we know (and love) as Kiva….but before I got here….
It was virtually impossible to write anything before leaving the States for Nairobi. There was simply too much movement, too much...Continue Reading >>
A past fellow to Tanzania, Alec Lovett, posted two blogs on “You Know You’re in Tanzania When…” I’ve posted the links to his blogs and added volume III with my own observations. Enjoy!
Volume III... Continue Reading >>
I found a snake in the living room closet.
I had been trying to mentally prepare for just this sort of moment, imagining myself cool and collected, taking snakes in the house in my stride. “Oh, just another snake!” I’d smile to everyone as I calmly shooed the snake from the house, proving myself not some silly American, but someone capable – someone who doesn’t fuss about snakes in the house. However, I hadn’t, in fact, thought that I would need to call upon my no-snake-fussing mental...
Anyone who has spent time in some of the more remote parts of Africa will probably shrug their shoulders at my observations. But as a first time visitor it’s hard not to feel like a bit of a celebrity, at least with the children. Wherever you go, kids stop and look. Sometimes they laugh or point and every now and then they wave and shout ‘white man!’
At first I was a little taken aback, but now it has become quite routine. Mostly I rather enjoy being the local novelty and giving a wave as I walk or ride past.... Continue Reading >>
As the next round of Kiva Fellows finished their training, Nabomita, Zack, and Julie (KF5) met for a weekend getaway in Mombasa, Kenya. During our reunion, we came up with some words to live by both for successfully completing your fellowship and for happily taking a respite from the rigors of life at an MFI. Read on, for our pearls of wisdom.
1) Don’t let the signs fool you; greasing an Immigration Official’s palm can buy you entry into a foreign country
After 8 hours on a bus from Dar es Salaam,...Continue Reading >>