I sat down to write this post at least five times. I want to tell people a little about Bluefields, Nicaragua and the challenges that exist here, but that’s not easy to do. Bluefields is unlike any place I’ve ever been, and I’ve travelled and lived abroad quite a bit. At one point, I thought I’d try to find some statistics to paint a picture of the poverty here. At another point, I just started rambling about specific things that I’ve seen and experienced. Then I thought, maybe pictures are the way to go. None of these approaches...Continue Reading >>
Some days as a Kiva Fellow totally rock. Its like, “snap, snap, snap!” You are in the groove, making good decisions, few cultural errors, you are visiting clients, streamlining internal processes, inspiring the staff of Kiva’s partners, making connections and generally rocking out. Here is a quick video I made of a day during which I visited clients.'
Some days…ie, today, are not so snappy. I got to one of Emprender’s field offices...Continue Reading >>
I’m already four weeks into my fellowship and as I anticipated, it’s been full of surprises!
A consultant by training, I’m in my element when I’m in an office, laptop in hand and armed with my shortcut keys. This is why I jumped at the chance to conduct my first Kiva training session. We pulled together a Power Point presentation, drafted and translated ‘cheat sheets’ and were ready to go. …or so we thought… Talk about an emotional journey!
The day started well with,
Enthusiasm: Granted, I was probably...Continue Reading >>
One testament to the power of the Fellow’s network, as described in Julie Ross’s excellent post The Importance Of My Fellow Fellows, is the existence of these two videos below. No sooner had Abby Gray (KF6) suggested via a mass email that it would be useful to have A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story Of A Kiva Loan in French so that she can show it to her MFI in Francophone Africa, than offers to translate/edit poured in from around the fellosphere. “Spanish would be great too” lead to a similar rumbling from the Latin American contingent.
Within three days I had...Continue Reading >>
Not every day as a Kiva Fellow is a good one. There are days when I wait for seven hours for a credit officer to be available to take me to the field to collect journal updates for only two clients. There are hours of intermittent internet in which I am able to load less than one page. There are the clients I meet about whom I would be inspired except that after doing the math I’m not convinced they’ve found a way to run their businesses with a net profit. Luckily, after more than 7 months of victories and setbacks, I think I’m in the black.
Small moments compensate for...Continue Reading >>
In Caacupé they make chipa. This mellow Paraguayan town, ensconced between beautiful green hills and canyons, is known for the small, biscuit-shaped snack, which is made with mandioca flour and cheese. You can find plenty of chipa in Asunción as well, but here it grows on the shelves of every food stall and floats through the streets on the heads of
hardworking saleswomen. A soft, porous piece of bread chipa is not. If you...Continue Reading >>
On Monday I was able to meet with a few Kiva borrowers for the first time. I thought I had a good appreciation of both the huge physical barriers that Kiva is able to overcome and the strength that so many of the borrowers possess. I was wrong on both counts. Just going out and visiting 5 clients took all day and the individuals I was able to visit with were more inspiring than I ever could have imagined. I put together a short video in hopes to share some of that experience.Continue Reading >>
I am not exactly sure how the “department” (like one of our states) of Totonicapan fared during the so called“civil war” in Guatemala during the 1980’s and 1990’s when it is estimated over 200,000 indigenous people were murdered by the government. Entire villages and all their inhabitants were destroyed during this time of genocide in Guatemala. (It is not a subject I have felt comfortable broaching……yet). BUT, I can tell you that this department seems fiercely independent, cohesive and not easily intimidated. In my two weeks here, I have become familiar with two examples of the...Continue Reading >>
Hello from Bamenda!!!
After about a two day transit adventure (NY to Paris (7hr), Paris to Douala (7hr), Douala to Bamenda (8 hr mini bus)), I arrived in Bamenda on Valentine’s Day, a day I thought I could avoid, but was proven incorrect! I am working with GHAPE (Grounded & Holistic Approach for People’s Empowerment) and everyone in the office is incredibly helpful and great to talk with. However, while my time in Cameroon has been positive, I have hit a major roadblock: I brought my Macintosh with me abroad and the software for accessing the internet here is for...Continue Reading >>
KISS is more than just one of the great bands of the last half century (if you disregard the ‘Unmasked’ era), it’s an acronym introduced to me by a grade school teacher which – unlike most of what I learned in school – has stuck with me through the years. It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Whether it’s in areas of communication, design or organization, the KISS philosophy is sage advice.
I’m fortunate enough to have internet access in my apartment here in the Philippines and I had high hopes for networking my WiFi-enabled cell phone and...Continue Reading >>