After all of the horror stories I had read on the Internet (kidnappers waiting to grab Americans at the airport, planes crashing because someone tried cooking over a coal fire in the back, rampant corruption and required bribery) I was a little nervous before embarking on my travels to Nigeria. Somehow Nigeria had been built up in my head as a complex mixture of culture and chaos– afrobeat music a la Fela Kuti and colorful clothing, big personalities and the complex flavors of jollof rice embedded in the “Wild West” of Africa. By the time the wheels of my plane touched down in Lagos,...Continue Reading >>
(About a week late due to power outages and internet disconnection.)
After almost six full days of travel, I’ve made it to Kathmandu. Flight delays, cancellations, rerouting, and an unexpected detour through Hong Kong all made my trip here much more interesting than I had expected. But, at last, I have arrived.
It’s been about six months since my last visit to Nepal, and much remains the same: The roads are crowded with taxis, tuk-tuks, wondering sadhus, and lounging cows. Walking down the street, one’s nose is filled with a mix of burning...Continue Reading >>
I’ve been in Sierra Leone now for about 6 days. It feels like I’ve been here for about 6 months. Not in a bad way, though. It’s just a very intense experience. Minus the unrelenting sweating it’s quite nice. It’s kind of like a bare-bones boot camp in the jungle, but instead of a screaming drill sergeant there are a lot of excited little African kids waving at you. Getting a feel for this place is all in the details. So here are a couple quirks from Sierra Leone to get things started:... Continue Reading >>
Tuesday morning at 8:15, all 20 of the new Kiva Fellows were on time, crowded around the breakfast table where Noah’s bagels, pastries and coffee were available to power us through the intense four days of training that would follow. The table in the middle of the training room was perpetually covered with beverages, snacks and laptops for the week we were there. I was extremely grateful for every ounce of caffeine and every handful of trailmix that JD, our Fellows Program Director, had to offer us along with the 800 Powerpoint slides and hours of practice sessions. I could tell in the...Continue Reading >>
A Tanzanian friend, who stays at the same guest house as me, came up with an expression that can be used to make any frustrating, confusing, or illogical moment in Africa, funny. TIA (this is Africa!). I can’t even remember the origin of this phrase (bad referencing I know), other than that my friend said it on the way home from a club one night, and made me believe that it was a commonly used expression in Dar es Salaam (N.B. sadly my gullibility cannot be attributed to drunkenness, it’s a special...Continue Reading >>
So… for me, one of the difficult parts of moving someplace new is getting used to things being different than I’m accustomed to. For example, after four years of wonderful college goodness, it came as a real shock when I got a job, moved to San Francisco and realized I had to wear pants on a regular basis. It still haunts me. But I’ve adapted, and now some days I even wear pants on the weekend. And sometimes I don’t.
This seems to be true as I am adjusting to life in...Continue Reading >>
By Mary Moseley
CAURIE MF, Caisse Autonome pour le Renforcement des initiatives Economiques par la Microfinance, is a mid-size microfinance institution that serves over 15,000 clients in Senegal and as of March 31st 2008, has a loan portfolio just over $4mUSD. They...Continue Reading >>
I packed light for my trip, because I heard what a breeze it is to buy everyday items at the local markets in Cambodia. After settling in at my guest house in Phnom Penh, I headed down to do just that at the nearby Phsar Toul Tom Poung Market, aka “Russian Market.” Why do they call it that, you ask? Apparently they don’t…
Even before I stepped outside of the entrance to my guest house, a handful of men eagerly...Continue Reading >>
I fell in love today. It started out as an innocent crush, evolved into a dangerous infatuation, and today turned into full-blown, head-over-heels in love…with Guatemala, that is! What an amazing place this is. I’ve spent quite a bit of time traveling throughout Latin America, but I’ve never been so taken by a place and its people. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what has swept me off my feet, but it’s some wonderful combination of the breathtaking countryside, the extreme warmth of the people, the crazy packed buses and terrible roads, the conversations...Continue Reading >>
When I tell people that I am heading to Sierra Leone for the summer to do microfinance I usually end up getting the following three questions: 1) Aren’t they killing each other over there? 2) Did you choose Sierra Leone? 3) Are you crazy?
So I thought I’d kick off my first post to the Fellows Blog by answering those questions. And to keep you on your toes, I’ll start with question 2, follow that with question 1, and then let you decide for yourself on question 3. Oh...Continue Reading >>