With 7 weeks past and 8 weeks to go, my Kiva Fellowship is moving right along. As my colleagues around the world, from Cambodia to Uganda to Peru can attest, much of the Kiva Fellow’s life is spent in motion. Already I have had two days where the number of hours spent on buses to number of clients interviewed, if imagined as a see-saw, would make for one very boring recess hanging on a plank suspended in the air. But if my last post dealt with my feelings on productivity (see “Buses and Productivity“), now I am considering the more general...Continue Reading >>
Well here I am! The sweltering, tropical, humid jungle capital of Pucallpa. I just moved here from the coastal town of Trujillo three days ago and I’ll be starting the second and final stint as a KF6 fellow for Manuela Ramos. A former Kiva fellow hooked me up with a family here in the heart of the Amazon and I’m staying with them for the next couple of days.
The father picked me up from the airport and ushered me (mercifully!) through the hoards of mototaxi drivers out to the main road where we caught a ride a less...Continue Reading >>
What originally started as a college senior’s feeble attempt to plan his future has finally become a reality: I am now in Sudan. After a 21-hour flight from Los Angeles to Uganda, three days of waiting in Uganda to get a Sudanese visa, and a one hour (scary) flight from Entebbe to Juba, I finally made it into the country that I will be calling “home” for the next several months.
My home does not have running water or...Continue Reading >>
In 2004, the International Criminal Tribunal ruled unanimously that the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995 was genocide.
I visited Srebrenica last week. I put together a video with a little history, photographs, and an interview with a Kiva Borrower whose husband was killed in the war and whose life has never fully recovered. I hate to sound cliche, but the entire experience broke my heart.' /> Continue Reading >>
I have been in Peru for two weeks now, but I have been struggling to blog about my experience so far. I’ve been waiting for a remarkable moving microfinance success story to share, or some powerful insight into the people of Peru or an individual that I have met that I can write about. Unfortunately after two weeks, neither of these have come to me as clearly (or as quickly) as I would have liked, and I have had to remind myself that that’s O.K. and the experience is still worth sharing. I am now in a small town called Huancayo and slowly but surely things are picking up speed. Over...Continue Reading >>
They seem to always be where you are, which is to say everywhere, as repellant and inescapable as a maelstrom of gnats. Step around one and you bump into another. You politely wave them off and mumble “no, thanks” with a disingenuous smile. Making eye contact might suggest interest or intent; or worse, invite confrontation. So you learn to ignore them. Faceless, nameless, spiritless ghosts you look right through and beyond. They don’t appear in travel magazine teaser shots or in the imaginations those publications sell. Their sole purpose, it seems clear, is to detract and annoy and chip...Continue Reading >>
It has passed 1 month since I started work with Hattha Kaksekar Limited(HKL) in Cambodia.
I’d like to post how HKL works, how the staffs are etc because I hope many people know more and feel something familiar with the MFI.
Firstly let me describe one day in HKL. The office hour is 7:30 a.m. To 4:30.p.m. It’s 1 hour lunch time from 12:00. I was so surprised that they...Continue Reading >>
I’ve been working with CREDIT-MFI as a Kiva Fellow for about a month and a half, and I still feel like I’m getting my feet wet. CREDIT is fairly large with about 360 employees working throughout Cambodia in their 7 branches. I work closely with CREDIT’s two Kiva Coordinators, Sopheap and Vichet, at the head office in Phnom Penh. We work behind the scenes managing Kiva CREDIT clients in CREDIT’s Management Information System (MIS), and on the Kiva website. We translate business questionnaire forms and often journal questionnaire forms (when we do not interview the clients directly) from...Continue Reading >>
This is my first post from the field, and, unfortunately, I’m not writing to share an inspiring microfinance success story or even a heartwarming cross-cultural anecdote, as I was hoping I would be. I am writing to tell about a conversation that threw an uncomfortably bright spotlight directly on the basis of my being here in Africa, and the basis of Kiva’s mission itself. I am stationed in Togo, a tiny West African country that ranks the 13th poorest in the world, with a GDP per capita in 2007 of $167. I am living with a Togolese family, and there is a 26-year old guy named...Continue Reading >>
Having researched Tajikistan’s economy prior to arriving here, I had a difficult time reconciling the numbers. It has a literacy rate of 95% and fairly high costs of goods like a developed country yet exceptionally low per capita incomes of some $340 similar to those of the poorest in the world. How does an educated population earn so little yet pay for goods clearly beyond its reach?
It is the Soviet legacy which has left most of the population over the age of 30 with a reasonably good education. Mothers and fathers subsisted on moderate civil servant salaries at the...Continue Reading >>