1. Tajiki-what?: Being an American in Tajikistan means that you are in a country that few of your compatriots have ever heard of, let alone traveled to. You are a curiosity everywhere you go and the lack of Westerners gives you the opportunity to act as kind of a mini-ambassador, answering all of questions that Tajiks have been waiting, sometimes their whole lives, to ask an American. Especially in the small towns, I attract a crowd of onlookers whenever I’m conducting an interview with a Kiva client, gawking at me as if I’ve just arrived from the moon....Continue Reading >>
I’m regularly taken aback by the beauty that I witness all over Cambodia. However, I am hesitant to write this blog for one reason: I could never fully recount the beauty of the landscape, people, and culture, neither through words nor photographs. Life in Cambodia has been surprisingly humbling and incredibly rewarding, so I hope that I can convey at least a glimmer of my experiences of the country. I’ll do my best to highlight a few of the aspects of Cambodian life and culture which I most appreciate.
Cultural Persona: Pride, cheer, concord –...Continue Reading >>
The smell of a farm is one thing that is familiar to me, but not much else is. It’s amazing how removed you can be from a process that is so central to life, but it’s true. Feel like I should take some kind of crash course in farming, something that would qualify me to report on the majority of the businesses here. But I’m not qualified and that’s that. This is the amateur’s version of the life of Kiva clients in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
... Continue Reading >>
Musa Kamara is a simple man. He lives in small hut in a remote region of the Sierra Leone jungle. He lives with his wife and daughter under a palm-branch roof that he built himself. For food he grows a few vegetables in his garden and hunts his own bushmeat. Musa gets almost everything he needs for his family from the jungle. Maybe you would expect it, maybe you wouldn’t, but Musa is an extremely happy man. If you ask him why, he’ll probably say it’s because he has the finest poyo in Sierra...Continue Reading >>
On Friday, Sophanith, Elena and I went to visit the Thea Chhin group, to do a journal on the group leader, Thea Chhin. The journey to Sala Khom Village was quite long. We left AMK‘s central office in Phnom Penh early in the morning and the drive to the branch office in Kampong Chhnang took about an hour. There we were greeted by the branch manager and we switched from our car to a pickup truck that was able to handle the village roads. As soon as our truck started driving on dirt roads, I was reminded of a road trip I took during college with my friends to...Continue Reading >>
My small black notebook is quickly filling up with lengthy scribble detailing the businesses and lives Kiva lenders are touching in Nigeria. The ever-present entrepreneurial spirit in this country fascinates me while the big-picture political economy boggles my mind.
To put it all in context, Nigeria is the world’s 6th biggest oil producer. Oil revenues constitute over 95% of Nigeria’s export earnings and 85% of the government’s revenue (at US$50 billion in 2006). However, there are frequent power outages, the roads are slow and hazardous riddled with potholes and 57% of the...Continue Reading >>
I can’t believe 3 weeks have gone by and I still haven’t blogged sharing with all of you my experience so far. I’m truly sorry for this but I’m hoping to redeem myself and be able to write and describe everything I’ve lived this past days. So back to the beginning…..
I believe (not sure if I’m totally right) that I’m the only fellow who is working in her own country. When I first...Continue Reading >>
Tuesday was the last day that the former Kiva Fellows, Megan and David, spent at the GHAPE office. The going-away party was really sweet with a board members lunch and gifts of gratitude. The main office in Bamenda is located in a family compound, with an open central area for recreation and cooking. The whole office spent the afternoon preparing the meal of Njama-njama (cooked greens), fufucorn (starchy white food), and chicken that had been freshly slaughtered from the coop out back. Our feast was a celebration for the new friends who had been living and working closely...Continue Reading >>
My time at Friendship Bridge has come to an end and I’m off to Guatemala City to start the next phase of my fellowship with la Fundación de Asistencia para la Pequeña Empresa (FAPE). Before I launch into my work at FAPE, I’ll attempt to reflect back on my time with Friendship Bridge a bit.
First of all, being a Kiva Fellow is fantastic work. I’ve spent much of my time traveling around a beautiful country, meeting with incredible women, and talking with them about...Continue Reading >>
Visiting clients with Fundación Paraguaya hasn’t been exactly what I expected. Fundación clients aren’t being “lifted out of poverty.” They aren’t the poorest of the poor in Paraguay. Most of the time, their loans are simply maintaining a status quo, economically speaking. So far, I’ve visited clients based out of four branch offices, and they have a lot in common. Like many MFIs, Fundación clients are often repeat borrowers. They are already entrepreneurs before they receive their first loan. The classic example is the couple that owns the despensa, a small local grocery/variety store...Continue Reading >>