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...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Cambodia
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 >>
Part of the reason I signed up for the Kiva Fellowship was to see how microfinance actually works on the ground. You can read all the books on microfinance, but that couldn’t make up for never seeing it in action with your own eyes. After getting an understanding of AMK’s operations from their nice air-conditioned central office (where I just finished making them an Excel macro to keep better track of their Kiva loans), I knew I had to see the loan officer in action to really understand the pros and cons of microfinance.
Saphanith, Elena and I stopped by Au Village...Continue Reading >>
To see a complete list of MAXIMA’s clients who live in rural areas such as this one, please click here./> Continue Reading >>
I’m regularly taken aback by the beauty that I witness all over Cambodia. However, I am hesitant to write this blog for one reason: I could never fully recount the beauty of the landscape, people, and culture, neither through words nor photographs. Life in Cambodia has been surprisingly humbling and incredibly rewarding, so I hope that I can convey at least a glimmer of my experiences of the country. I’ll do my best to highlight a few of the aspects of Cambodian life and culture which I most appreciate.
Cultural Persona: Pride, cheer, concord –...Continue Reading >>
On Friday, Sophanith, Elena and I went to visit the Thea Chhin group, to do a journal on the group leader, Thea Chhin. The journey to Sala Khom Village was quite long. We left AMK‘s central office in Phnom Penh early in the morning and the drive to the branch office in Kampong Chhnang took about an hour. There we were greeted by the branch manager and we switched from our car to a pickup truck that was able to handle the village roads. As soon as our truck started driving on dirt roads, I was reminded of a road trip I took during college with my friends to...Continue Reading >>
After a wonderful 25-hour journey from New York, I finally made it to Cambodia! My first order of business was to get my visa at the airport, but that turned out to be a breeze. I filled out a visa application and it was passed along a line of 8 Cambodian officials who were seated in a row behind a counter. After 15 minutes and $25 I had my 30-day business visa (which I have to extend soon). When I left the airport I had to make the very difficult decision between a $9 taxi ride or a $7 tuk-tuk ride. The guy selling tuk-tuk rides made a compelling argument, that...Continue Reading >>
I was surprised to discover earlier this week that I have approached the halfway point of my Kiva fellowship. Upon this realization I was frustrated because of how little I still know about microfinance, development, and rural Cambodia and how little time I have left in my fellowship to advance my understandings on these topics.
That said, I am incredibly indebted to both Kiva and MAXIMA Mikroheranhvatho Co. Ltd to the exposure they have provided me to these issues. Short of complete rural immersion, I cannot imagine a more authentic and...Continue Reading >>
I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t experience it myself, but Cambodia is a great place to celebrate American Independence Day. If you don’t believe me, I have the pictures to prove it!
This weekend was jam packed with, among other things, a fireworks show on the evening of the 4th and a large celebration at the US embassy in the capital city of Phnom Penh. The event included the typical American fare of burgers, hot dogs, donuts and beer, and enough American activities to make me feel like I was at home again.
As soon as I...Continue Reading >>
It was kind of an inside joke between my father and I when I was younger that I would make fun of him for never using straws when he drank beverages. “Dad, it makes your life so much easier! You don’t have to bother picking up the glass. You just lean forward a little and drink. It’s great.”
My dad would shake his head at his twelve-year-old daughter. “Straws are superfluous. It’s an unnecessary step between me and my drink. I don’t need a tube to help me drink- I can do it fine on my own.”
We would argue like this back...Continue Reading >>