Nov 6, 2008 KH Cambodia

I’m a new Kiva Fellow volunteering with Maxima, a microfinance institution (MFI) headquartered in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. I arrived in Phnom Penh about three weeks ago, and had the luxury of a week to acclimate before starting at Maxima.

My arrival coincided with a visit to Cambodia by Kiva co-founder Matt Flannery and Kiva Chief Software Architect Zvi Boshernitzan, who were making a field visit to see how Kiva works in the field for partner MFIs and for Kiva borrowers. I went straight from the airport to a dinner at a Phnom Penh restaurant with Matt, Zvi, and...

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Oct 17, 2008 GH Ghana

Veronica was more than just the small provisions shop owner across the street from where I used to live in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. She was more than just a woman full of life and smiles who I would often visit with on my way home from work. She was a friend, one I even visited at home to say goodbye to when I left. So when I spend my first five days in Ghana back in the neighborhood where I lived for two months last year while working at a popular Ghanaian newspaper, one of the things on my to-do list was to see Veronica.

I walked down the street where I used to live, down...

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Oct 14, 2008 SL Sierra Leone

After weeks of mental and physical preparation, I have finally arrived in Sierra Leone.  My Kiva Fellowship brings me to Salone Microfinance Trust (heretofore referred to as “SMT”).  Over the next few months, I will share on-the-ground insight of Sierra Leone, educate on SMT’s business model and convey stories about SMT’s wonderful employees.  But first, I’d like to share a story about my arrival to Makeni.

 

I can immediately feel comfortable in any setting when music...

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Oct 14, 2008 BA Bosnia and Herzegovina

I am living in the attic of a blue house, which I share with fish farmers in the Bosnian countryside.  I have a small kitchen (with a tea kettle and 6 espresso cups), a living room decorated with antique dolls, and a bedroom that smells like the suitcase of a grandparent. It is a musty and warm oasis. Behind the house are vegetable gardens and pools of fish and a guard dog (named Garo) who no longer pulls on his chain.  There is a dirt path that I can follow for hours, past sheep and cemeteries and forgotten homes.

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Oct 14, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

I have to be honest, I was slightly terrified to become a Kiva Fellow, to travel halfway across the world to a place I had to look up on a map. Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for all the right reasons: I really believe in the way that Kiva operates, I wanted to delve deeper into the world of microfinance, and I thought that a three month sabbatical might help me gain some perspective.

But I also had a lot of little voices building up in the back of my head that didn’t think this was such a good idea. I felt uncertain: I don’t speak Russian...

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Oct 13, 2008 KE Kenya

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 know that I made it safely…...

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Oct 13, 2008 KE 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 rule the road, or at least they think they do. The sliding door is almost always open, with the “Matatu Manager” hanging out of...

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Oct 13, 2008 KE Kenya

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 momentum to stop and capture my thoughts.

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Oct 13, 2008 KH Cambodia

Well now is your chance!!!

I will be visiting the Siphat Yang Village Bank and the Chon Erm Village Bank Group this Thursday. If you want me to ask the members of the village bank a question, send me an email with your question: sanjaya.punyasena AT fellows.kiva.org

This is the first time I’m trying this, so I might run into some problems. I want to apologize in advance if I am unable to ask your question. If you could send me your questions before October 15th, that would be great!

Also, if you haven’t voted for Kiva on the American Express Members Project...

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Oct 12, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Hello Kiva Fans,

A little more than a week ago I was sitting on the plane for the last hour of what had been a 36 hour journey – Boston, New York, Zurich, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam.  I watched as the computer generated plane tracker moved across the Kenya/Tanzania border and tried to steady myself for the new circumstances I was about to enter.

This week, I want to share some of the pleasant surprises – of which there are many.  One of the unfortunate unintended consequences of the dogged, and at times heroic, efforts of many to highlight to suffering on this continent...

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