Apr 6, 2009 ID Indonesia

West Timor is the country equivalent of Robert Downey Senior. The usual reaction is “West Timor? I didn’t know there was a West Timor. But I’ve heard of East Timor so I suppose it makes sense”.

And indeed it does make sense, especially if you live here. West Timor, formerly a Dutch colony until it was un-clogged in 1945, is on an island towards the eastern side of Indonesia (Timur conveniently means “east” in Indonesian) but, it should be stressed, not the most easterly island as that is Papua and or West Papua (to clarify please see www.google....

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Apr 3, 2009 PY Paraguay

I told myself I’d avoid writing a blog entry that involved too much rumination on the meaning of microfinance. Oops.

Before I left for Paraguay, I had a long conversation with Cara Gutterman, the first Kiva Fellow assigned to Fundación Paraguaya. In addition to giving me some insight into the food (fine) and the weather (very, very hot), Cara told me that many of the borrowers she met during her time in Paraguay didn’t seem to be lifting themselves out of poverty; in fact, they didn’t seem to be the poorest of the poor, but instead were a group of...

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Apr 3, 2009 NI Nicaragua

Having spent two months in Bluefields, Nicaragua now, I have been struck by the near absence of two characteristics common in impoverished areas: illiteracy and child labor.  This statement is based purely on my own observation.  Unfortunately very little statistical data exists for this region.  Nevertheless, what I have seen here in terms of these two particular, yet intimately related, challenges to development is one of very few things that gives me hope and even a little optimism for future development here.

When interviewing recipients of Kiva loans, I often ask the client how...

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Apr 3, 2009 UG Uganda

Thank you for all the loans you make to Kiva. As a Kiva Fellow, I get the joy of receiving the gratitude that is truly meant for all of you.

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of meeting Florence Musola at a loan disbursement for the Balikyewunya Borrower’s Group. She was one of the first members to arrive at the meeting, so we were able to carry out a lengthy interview while the other members trickled in. It was fortunate that we got started early because Florence had lots to tell us about being a florist in Kampala, Uganda.

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Apr 1, 2009 PH Philippines

When you begin a fellowship, the end of it is the furthest thing from your mind.  When you end it, you can’t believe it’s over already.  And now at the end of it, I have plenty of cocktail party stories about traveling to remote villages, eating strange foods and learning exotic customs.  But they’re only meaningful because I didn’t experience them alone.

I can’t say enough about my great friends at CEV who made me feel as though it were my home.  Whether spending their day showing me around the island, bringing fresh fruit...
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Apr 1, 2009

It’s taken me some time to “get my feet on the ground” microfinance wise. So many distractions upon arriving in a new country, community, culture, family–not to mention learning my way around ASDIR, Kiva’s partner bank.  After almost 6 weeks here, this is my first post that focuses on microcredit.

I have visited almost 50 Kiva borrowers since arriving here, but these two stand out for me as exemplifying the role that “having access to credit”  can play in the lives of the hardworking and resourceful poor.

The first, is an interview...

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Mar 31, 2009

The first quarter of 2009 has seen many amazing stories from Kiva Fellows in the field. Let’s take a look back at some of the remarkable blog posts you may have missed! Top 5 most viewed blog entries:

With almost 6000 views, Kieran Ball takes the internet community by storm with his post featuring a phenomenal video tracking a loan from London to Cambodia. You can also view the translated Spanish and French versions of the video here: Un Punado de Dolares/ Une Poignee de Dollars.

  • Fistful of Dollars: The Story of a Kiva.org Loan by...
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    Mar 31, 2009 SN Senegal

    Imagine that you’re a young West African woman.  You live in a small village, and you had to quit school at a young age to help your parents take care of your brothers and sisters, so employment prospects are slim.

    Your grandmother approaches you with a job offer.  She tells you that, with the career that she has in mind, you could make up to $200 a day, along with gifts of palm oil, yams, and chickens.  You would be carrying on a family tradition, a religious tradition, and a cultural tradition, and the people in your town would respect you and your work.

    Sounds good,...

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    Mar 30, 2009

    After about 6 weeks being out in the field and working with my MFI, I sent the following email to the 7th class kiva fellows:

    I have a burning question I’d like to ask all of you: now that you’ve been working with your respective mfi’s for some time now, what do you think about microfinance (in general)? Any good surprises? Any bad surprises?

    What followed was a long, fascinating discussion that we thought would be a good idea to publish here. I’ve posted the replies as comments to this post. Hope you enjoy!

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    Mar 30, 2009 GT Guatemala

    **Warning: Do not read if you are my parents**

    Yesterday morning the secretary of FAPE (the MFI I am working with here in Guatemala City) woke up at 4:30am. As she left her house she kissed her 3-year-old son goodbye and told him that if she didn’t come home tonight he should know that she loves him. She then waited at the bus stop for over 2 hours for a city bus to bring her the 5 miles to the FAPE office.

    Guatemala City (“Guate”) is in a public transportation crisis. It’s taken me awhile to...

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