This is my first blog as a kiva fellow and as an individual, so perhaps I will use this time to introduce myself to anyone in the internet community who would like to know. I am Jen McQuhae, 22, from Vancouver Island, Canada. I recently completed a four year honours degree in international development with a major in economics at the University of McGill in Montreal. I have been fortunate enough to spend a great deal of my recent past travelling to a number of countries and working in a variety of contexts. My last adventure was to Kenya and Tanzania where I worked in HIV clinics,...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Africa
Dala-dalas are Dar es Salaam’s form of public transportation. They are buses that run all over the city, charging about $0.30 per ride. There is no set schedule, and they typically only leave once they are full.
Although several Tanzanians warned me about taking dala-dalas during rush hour, I figured it was no big deal. So I would be squished and sweaty, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I took one from work to the city center and I even got a seat! At that point I was thinking, “Why did everyone make such a big deal? This is totally fine...Continue Reading >>
(To see what happened during the first 11 days, see Part 1)
Day 12 (Warning: slightly disgusting content. Do not attempt to read while eating):
I just finished rubbing my heels with sandpaper for the last hour. It’s a long story how I got to this point, but it involves exclusively flip-flops/sandals and very dirty/dusty/sandy roads for 6 weeks. Basically, I gave up trying to wash or in any way care for my feet a few weeks ago. They were just always dirty. Even when I get home there’s just dirt everywhere so I gave up on my feet. The plan worked out fine until yesterday...
One of the most inspiring things I have seen in Cameroon is the progress made by many GHAPE borrowers over the years. GHAPE is the local NGO where I am working during my time as a Kiva Fellow in West Africa. Their aim, like many of the other hundreds of microfinance organisations around the world, is to combat poverty by bringing capital to people who have none. GHAPE sow these funds with a good handful of business advice to ensure their borrowers’ ventures grow tall.
I spent my second...Continue Reading >>
Well, I’m back in the U.S., which means back to the old grad-student-grind. (There is, however, the new excitement of teaching French 1 for the first time here in Beautiful Berkeley, where I have hardly seen a cloud since my return.) I’ve had a few things to finish up for my Kiva fellowship in Senegal, though, since my last week in the field was spent… in the field. We ran around trying to pack as many interviews as we could into the last few days; but, as if to mock our efforts at productivity, fate...Continue Reading >>
On August 24th I left Dar es Salaam for a 3-week trip to central Tanzania to train BRAC branches on Kiva in three other regions. Here’s a glimpse into the first 11 days of my 21 days on the road:
Seven hours on the bus from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma has kicked off with a traveling saleswoman making her pitch for soaps, toothpastes, and aloe vera at full volume to the entire bus for at least 30 minutes. Perhaps I would mind her hard-sell less if I were able to understand more than 1 out of every 12 words (I do learn,...Continue Reading >>
Fresh off the plane, I arrived in Dar es Salaam eager to begin work with Tujijenge Tanzania as a Kiva Fellow. First task: find accommodation for the year. Without Craigslist Tanzania, the whole process promised to be daunting.
It was. Here are some of the reasons:
Go to a real estate agent, he charges you $20 for a tour of available properties. But after showing you a gaggle of multiple bedroom apartments after you ask for a single room you get the sense he’s just showing you anything and everything to get his...Continue Reading >>
Since arriving in Nigeria, I’ve mostly been hot. When I’m not hot, I’m comfortable. Cold is a word that I reserve for specifying how I would like my bottled water. When I became chilled and goose bumps started popping on Wednesday night, I knew something was wrong.
Within one hour, my forehead was burning up. I returned home from my friend’s house and went straight for my sweatshirt and thermometer. One hundred and two point four degrees. I popped some drugs, collected an arsenal of bottled water and went to bed, telling my Bengali housemate, Rafiq, that tonight I would not be...Continue Reading >>
Squeezing people into taxis is par for the course in Cameroon. As cabs approach, you shout your destination to the driver and if you get the nod you hop in. If there are already three in the back, no matter, there’s room for one more. If there are two in the front, again, no problem: a third person can fit in – roughly positioned astraddle the gear stick (US English: stick shift).
Leaving Bamenda to make the journey to the small town of Belo, I felt a certain smugness at having bagged the front...Continue Reading >>
When I first began working in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill, my initial impression was horror that the country was being run by a bunch of 20-somethings. At 23, I was solidly within the median age range and even felt old when I saw peers walking around with short skirts, finding myself thinking “how inappropriate!” It didn’t take me long to become accustomed to the age range of Hill staffers and soon it even made sense to me that they’d all be so young. The hours were grueling, the work was exhausting, and without energy, enthusiasm, and a youth-like belief in...Continue Reading >>