Jun 2, 2008 GT Guatemala

While I didn’t quite get it together enough in the midst of scrambling to get ready to go to write a pre-departure blog, here’s a go at some initial impressions and aspirations for my fellowship. I’ve been in Guatemala a little over 48 hours, and one of the things I’ve been most struck with is how friendly people are here. As with any with any adventure into a new place, there’s a lot of uncertainty. And as I’ve asked for directions, inquired about how to say this or that, and questioned various aspects of how things are done around here, I’ve...

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Jun 2, 2008 UG Uganda

Upon arrival in Entebbe (the airport for Kampala is actually in Entebbe, the old capital city which is 45 minutes from Kampala), I knew I was definitely back in Africa. It wasn’t because as a white woman I was in the minority, but rather it was the smell. On the drive to Kampala and my hotel, I was trying to figure out how to describe the smell and all I could come up with was the following: the smell is akin to driving in the country past a bonfire in which the burning scent fills your car and your nose. Yes, Africa smells like a bonfire.

As...

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Jun 1, 2008 KH Cambodia

Blackouts without notice And “internet down” Spreadsheets that prod me To cry and frown Riding on motos And closing my eyes Clients are always my humanity ties…”

Okay, fine, that was really corny. Consider yourself lucky, though, because it was either that or “In da Field” to the tune of “In da Club” by Fiddie Cent.

This wonderful woman read my palm. She told me that if I married it would be to an older man, then asked me why I would want to marry such an old man. I don’t know? Also, at 64 she runs a fairly...

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Jun 1, 2008 ID Indonesia

WARNING: The following post has nothing to do with microfinance, microwaves or microphones. Not even Micro Machines. That said…                

I was in a fight yesterday.

           Yesterday, I lost that fight.  Badly.  It wasn’t even close.  It was one of those, “was he even trying?” or “he’ll never walk again!” kind of beat downs.  The worst part was, I paid for the privilege of this fight. 

    Having left the States on May 26th on my way to my 10 week fellowship in Indonesia, I scheduled a three full day stop-over in...

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Jun 1, 2008 KH Cambodia

Probably one of the biggest issues facing microfinance today is that of impact. To what extent has microfinance actually affected global poverty? In what ways can its impact be measured, and how sustainable is it? Will it continue to grow? Though I agree that understanding impact is crucial and developing social impact studies and matrices is a valuable undertaking, I question the ability we have to concretely measure the more soft-data effects. How does one quantify the feeling of being better off?

One of the main responsibilities of Kiva fellows is to assist with the...

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May 31, 2008 UG Uganda

The first week I came to MCDT, Justine, my supervisor, and Olivia, her supervisor, were looking at pictures of borrowers they were preparing to post to the Kiva website.  They called me over to look at one person in particular, standing in the middle of a group of five and said, “You must meet Ruth!”  They told me she was the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit and a real survivor.  They told me how she’s living with AIDS and lost her husband to the disease 10 years ago.  They told me how she as at least 5 businesses.  I didn’t know quite what that...

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May 28, 2008 UG Uganda

Here it is: my first blog entry! As I write this, I am putting the finishing touches on my packing and realizing I truly have no idea what to expect! I am in the phase of packing in which I second guess my second guesses and start throwing the unnecessary items back in – I think this can be referred to as panicking! What it comes down to is that no matter how much I have been reading about Uganda and Kampala, I have no real idea what to expect.

However, to say that I am unprepared is a bit preposterous. I recently got back from a (very long)...

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May 26, 2008 KH Cambodia

Higher education opportunities aren’t a reality for most females in Cambodia.  Making it to university is a feat for the average male, let alone female.  With limited household income, rural families have difficulties supporting their children through school, especially beyond a primary education.  The odds for children to make it through secondary school will inevitably be dependent upon the school’s distance from the household: transportation to and from can be cost prohibitive.  Take into account the large number of households that must pull their...

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May 21, 2008 KH Cambodia

Often when I visit clients with a loan officer, we show them a picture of their KIVA profile and explain that people around the world have read about them and helped to finance their loans.  Upon seeing their pictures, many blush with embarrassment.  (For many, it’s one of the few photos they’ve taken in their life.)  After a second look, a huge grin usually appears and the entrepreneur proudly shows their profile to other family members or curious neighbors.

 

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May 20, 2008

Hopping off the short flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh I was struck immediately by two things; the heat, and the chaos. 10 am and the city was throbbing with people, dust, and the motorbikes that most people use to travel around the city. At first, the traffic was nothing short of frightening. It seemed the only rule of the road was that there are no rules. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw a learner driver on the road the day after I arrived- I thought – what are they learning? The answer is not much – a local lady explained to me that to pass a...

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