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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May 20, 2008 UG Uganda

These past couple of weeks at MCDT, my primary task has been interviewing women who will be getting their first Kiva loan (though not their first loan) in order to write up the brief introduction posted on the Kiva website. Keep an eye out for them! They’re terrific people and a terrific organization and I’m excited to be helping them get these loans.

I’ve been hearing so many stories doing these interviews, as you can imagine, it’s hard to select any particular one to share. But there was one yesterday that got to me and I thought I’d pass it along.

Fred, the...

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May 17, 2008 CM Cameroon

I am proud to say that I have earned two blisters in the last week: one from hand-washing my clothes (I’ve now learned to really scrub ‘em), and another from pulling the kernels off corncobs. As a woman who has earned most previous blisters from breaking in new hiking boots or rowing crew, both luxury sports of a sort, this feels different.

Work in its many forms is so deeply ingrained in the culture in Bamenda that it takes shape in language. In pidgin, you would not believe how frequently the words “struggle” and “suffer” are used, usually not...

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May 14, 2008 UG Uganda

Warning:  The following story is not supposed to suggest that I think every African is noisy and offensive!  It may seem that I am complaining about something very trivial and some sections of society will read this and say “If you don’t like it them leave”.  To them I say… I am not asking anyone here to change – I love it here – merely writing about the fact that I haven’t managed to sleep through a night since coming here.  I love the life and energy here and wouldn’t want it any other way (god,...

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May 9, 2008 WS Samoa

There are parallel and sometimes conflicting legal systems in Samoa: the state system and the local matai (chief) system.  The state system being a relatively recent incarnation and the matai system being a traditional hierarchical structure used for many centuries.  Both have laws (formal and informal), courts, judges and punishments.

Outside the capital city of Apia, the matai system reigns supreme.  For many centuries it has maintained order in the rural villages.  Samoans attribute their long history without internal conflict and widespread...

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May 9, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

Families in rural Azerbaijan are heavily reliant on farm animals, often just a handful of sheep and a cow, for food and income. Microcredit loans allow enterprising individuals to scale up animal raising activities so that excess milk, cheese, wool, and offspring can be sold for a profit. But where does one go to buy a cow or a half dozen sheep? I learned that once a week as many as 4,000 farmers congregate with their animals to exchange ownership at the Livestock Bazaar. Kiva’s field partner, Aqroinvest arranged for me to meet a client and conduct an interview at the...

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May 5, 2008 PE Peru

It was in December 2006 when I received an email from my brother inviting me to join a cool new website named Kiva.org which allowed individuals with a credit card to finance entrepreneurs in the developing world. Although I had heard of Microfinance I didn’t fully appreciate what it offered the world until I began to research Kiva.org, its field partners, and had read Muhammad Yunus’s book “Banker to the Poor”. I then realized how special the Kiva concept was and knew I had to get involved.

I am now close to the end of my 6 month...

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