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 >>
Stories tagged with Kenya
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 >>
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...
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 >>
Jambo everyone! Or, to prove that I’m “in the know”, Mambo!
Okay, so these may be the only two words I know in Swahili at this point, but I am expecting/hoping that my vocabulary will exponentially increase in the next 13 weeks. At this moment, I am sitting among 29 other, and infinitely more interesting than I, future Fellows in a training session at Kiva headquarters. Here at the Kiva office we have been overeating and learning how to be the very best Fellows we can be (which of course includes learning how to post on this blog!).
This initial post is...Continue Reading >>
It has been sometime since I’ve updated for the Kiva Fellows blog. As cliché as it is lots has happened and I’ve promised a more in depth description of the impact of the post-election crisis on micro-finance. So in baseball terminology I offer a double header (or double-dip in the vernacular of the dugout). I wanted to separate the entries. This one is about my field partner. Below is an entry more specific to the violence and its impact on three remarkable women.
I’ve been in Africa for two months and I thought I’d finally share more about my field partner, Opportunity...
The last several weeks I’ve been traveling all over West Kenya visiting groups in the branch offices of OI-Wedco to do journal updates. I return back to Kisumu with a deeply somber heart.
A few weeks ago in Kakemega I met two Kikuyu single mothers from a Kiva funded group. They told me about how they lost everything after the post-election violence. During the turmoil their shop and clothing stock was burned because of their tribal background. They fled to an IDP (internally displaced persons, essentially refugees in their own country) camp run by the UN and stayed for five months....
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 >>
I have made it safe and on time to my destination in Kisumu, Kenya. It has been a rush. Before I left, Dr. Omedi Ochieng, told me that nothing could prepared me to fully understand what Africa would be. Personal descriptions, books, photos, data, only go so far Prior to my departure I believed that I had a cerebral understanding of what Africa would be like, but being here the visceral experience is daunting.... Continue Reading >>