Kerti Moses and his wife Endang had one of the biggest homes I had seen in almost fifty visits to DINARI Foundation’s clients. The exposed concrete foundation elevated the house above the nearby dwelling of one of the couple’s workers. The entire floor was covered in big ceramic tiles printed like green marble, and the white walls still had a lingering freshness in parts. Inside was a big room with high exposed rafters and smaller bedrooms adjoining it. The main room was empty save for a table in one corner and a TV against the far wall....Continue Reading >>
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Poverty is a riot of inconsistencies and mysterious shades of complexity. Today, after a long week in the field, I’m wondering how anyone could possibly work their way out of the despair they inherited with birth when so many forces conspire against them, especially women.
Poverty is defined as a condition of unacceptable material deprivation, according to a particular society’s standards of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Poverty is widely acknowledged to be a multi-dimensional condition; however most efforts to measure its extent and...Continue Reading >>
I’m a new Kiva Fellow volunteering with Maxima, a microfinance institution (MFI) headquartered in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. I arrived in Phnom Penh about three weeks ago, and had the luxury of a week to acclimate before starting at Maxima.
My arrival coincided with a visit to Cambodia by Kiva co-founder Matt Flannery and Kiva Chief Software Architect Zvi Boshernitzan, who were making a field visit to see how Kiva works in the field for partner MFIs and for Kiva borrowers. I went straight from the airport to a dinner at a Phnom Penh restaurant with Matt, Zvi, and...Continue Reading >>
Veronica was more than just the small provisions shop owner across the street from where I used to live in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. She was more than just a woman full of life and smiles who I would often visit with on my way home from work. She was a friend, one I even visited at home to say goodbye to when I left. So when I spend my first five days in Ghana back in the neighborhood where I lived for two months last year while working at a popular Ghanaian newspaper, one of the things on my to-do list was to see Veronica.
I walked down the street where I used to live, down...Continue Reading >>
After weeks of mental and physical preparation, I have finally arrived in Sierra Leone. My Kiva Fellowship brings me to Salone Microfinance Trust (heretofore referred to as “SMT”). Over the next few months, I will share on-the-ground insight of Sierra Leone, educate on SMT’s business model and convey stories about SMT’s wonderful employees. But first, I’d like to share a story about my arrival to Makeni.
I can immediately feel comfortable in any setting when music...Continue Reading >>
I am living in the attic of a blue house, which I share with fish farmers in the Bosnian countryside. I have a small kitchen (with a tea kettle and 6 espresso cups), a living room decorated with antique dolls, and a bedroom that smells like the suitcase of a grandparent. It is a musty and warm oasis. Behind the house are vegetable gardens and pools of fish and a guard dog (named Garo) who no longer pulls on his chain. There is a dirt path that I can follow for hours, past sheep and cemeteries and forgotten homes.... Continue Reading >>
I have to be honest, I was slightly terrified to become a Kiva Fellow, to travel halfway across the world to a place I had to look up on a map. Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for all the right reasons: I really believe in the way that Kiva operates, I wanted to delve deeper into the world of microfinance, and I thought that a three month sabbatical might help me gain some perspective.
But I also had a lot of little voices building up in the back of my head that didn’t think this was such a good idea. I felt uncertain: I don’t speak Russian...Continue Reading >>
People always use toothpicks after meals…you don’t “get off” a bus or Matatu, you “alight” (I have actually never heard this word before)…people make “blunders” instead of “mistakes”…Kenya produces great coffee, but since the domestic demand is rather for tea, most places serving coffee here are surprisingly bad…people love eating meat…when I ask people for directions, they assume that I am utterly helpless and may not make it to where I am going…if my colleagues give me directions, they want me to send them an SMS once I arrive, so that they know that I made it safely…...Continue Reading >>
Nairobi is a mad, mad place for the unfamiliar visitor. Traffic, pollution, swarms of people…
The simplest, most convenient way to get around is on a Matatu. A Matatu is a little van, almost like a VW bus, except outfitted with seats for 14 people…and sometimes a flat screen TV and Pioneer speakers, which are always pumping some kind of reggae or American hip hop through the little van.
Matatus rule the road, or at least they think they do. The sliding door is almost always open, with the “Matatu Manager” hanging out of...Continue Reading >>