Jun 30, 2008 UG Uganda

Each morning before heading into the field, I read the New Vision, a daily newspaper in Kampala. A few weeks ago there was a special article about a town in Uganda in which the men do nothing but drink, gamble and nurse their hangovers while the women work and tend to the house, children and their needy husbands. The article speculated that the men needed therapy to deal with their lack of motivation resulting from the extreme poverty they are living in.

 

Upon mentioning the article to my associates at work, they said...

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Jun 29, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

It’s 5:30am and after lying in bed all night, sleepless from both the strange Central Asian bacteria inhabiting my stomach and the sheer excited anticipation of my coming journey, the time has now come for what will be one hell of a ride. Kenjal, my trusty driver, arrives on time in his battered, white 4WD, his gold teeth shine in the morning sun as he greets me with the traditional “Osolom Aleikum!” “Vy gotovi? (Are you ready?),” he asks me in his thick Tajik accent. “Da, konechno, poyekhali!” (Yes, of course, let’s go!”) I reply with an enthusiasm...

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Jun 29, 2008 KH Cambodia

It was kind of an inside joke between my father and I when I was younger that I would make fun of him for never using straws when he drank beverages. “Dad, it makes your life so much easier! You don’t have to bother picking up the glass. You just lean forward a little and drink. It’s great.”

My dad would shake his head at his twelve-year-old daughter. “Straws are superfluous. It’s an unnecessary step between me and my drink. I don’t need a tube to help me drink- I can do it fine on my own.”

We would argue like this back...

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Jun 29, 2008 NP Nepal

Patan Business and Professional Women (BPW)

 

It was my first full day of work and the director of BPW decided that the best way for me to get an understanding of how her organization worked would be to start from the beginning.  So, with that goal in mind, I was sent to observe a “recognition exam” which she would be administering to a group of 10 new borrowers.  

 

The exam serves as an opportunity to reiterate the principles of the MFI, clarify the terms of the loan, and showcase the business plans of the individual entrepreneurs.  The exam opens...

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Jun 28, 2008 GH Ghana

I have been in the country for two weeks now and I love it. Ghana is known for its warmth—both physical and relational—and thus far, it has lived up to its reputation. The Ghanaian handshake, with its snap upon release, seems to epitomize the general tone of life here. Friendly and laid-back. In the town of Cape Coast where I’m living, taxi drivers remember your name and children invite you to games of make-shift pool (using long sticks and marbles). Religion is also a very prominent part of life here. 70-80% of the population is Christian, and those of the faith display...

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Jun 27, 2008 NG Nigeria

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,...

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Jun 26, 2008 NP Nepal

(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...

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Jun 26, 2008 SL Sierra Leone

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: 

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Jun 23, 2008 CM Cameroon

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...

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Jun 23, 2008 TZ Tanzania
By kafui
TIA

TIA

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...

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