Today was my first day at my MFI, AMK. Paul, the CEO, is a wonderfully nice guy (the nicest ex-pat I’ve ever met here, in fact). He is from the southern suburbs of Chicago. The utter mention of the words south and Chicago in the same sentence immediately frightened me, as if a sudden and deep philosophical difference suddenly arose between us. Thankfully, and this must have been commanded from on high, he is nonetheless a Cubs fan (see Mark’s objective truth list, #2, “Baseball is the best sport in the world”). I will be his friend even if for this reason only (though I am...Continue Reading >>
I first met Deborah, an 11 year old girl, when I was looking for the trash cans outside my building. She happily showed me the way and started chatting me up. Then I met Colom, her older sister, who is 18 and very sweet. We became friends, and they asked if they could visit me sometime. I said, of course, anytime! That same night, when I walked up to my apartment building from work, they were both standing there with a younger boy waiting, and holding a grapefruit as a gift for me.
That first night we talked for a long time. Colom said she’d just moved here one month ago from the...Continue Reading >>
I’m Megan, and I am volunteering as a Kiva Fellow with Afrique Emergence et Investissements, a microfinance institute in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. I arrived Monday night (1/21) and have been working in the main office since Tuesday. Already I am impressed with how well this organization is run, and the vision and enthusiasm of the team. To me, enabling the work of partners like this is what Kiva is all about.
I was greeted at the airport by Madame Coulibali and Rahambatou, two women from the office. Technically they are the HR team, but in reality they take on a wide variety of...Continue Reading >>
entry 1, trip and arrival
Leaving San Fran was really quite simple, and way better than my previous experience at LAX when I nearly went on the conveyor with my checked bag through security–interrupt: they have new keyboards at this internet cafe, which preclude me from being able to use...
Nabwire Carolyn, Manager of BRAC Uganda’s Kalerwe Branch, awakens at 5:30 each work day. A devoutly religious person, she spends the first half hour of each day in prayer. Next she prepares her two children for the day. Joshua, age 4, attends pre-school and Ester, age 2, goes to day care. Carolyn prepares breakfast for the children and her husband, Joseph, who is a computer programmer and web designer. At 6:30 Joseph departs in the family car to drop the children off at school on his way to work.... Continue Reading >>
How does a 48 year old widow in Uganda with no job, no savings, very little education, and no business training provide for eleven orphans, ranging in age from 9 to 17?
One answer is to take out a US $180 micro-loan from BRAC Uganda and work very hard to establish and operate two successful small businesses.
The story of how Bayiyana Regina came to be the sole supporter of eleven orphans is both a tragic commentary on life and death in Uganda and an inspirational tale of sacrifice and perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity....Continue Reading >>
It would seem that time with Kiva is flying by when I think about my remaining 4½ months left here in East Africa. Almost 4 down, almost 4 more to go. I have been receiving updates from friends in Chicago about their frigid weather and feel grateful even for Tanzania’s thick humidity. I prefer sweating to shivering any day. The bright red flowers on the trees are so beautiful here, and passing by moneys playing by the side of the road on my way to work makes me smile.
I am now helping out at two MFIs– Tujijenge Tanzania and BRAC Tanzania, which have distinct and...Continue Reading >>
As a Kiva Fellow you realize the journals you write quickly become lost in the depths of hundreds of pages, full of testimonials begging to be read. I wanted to share one story I’ve found particularly moving, and hope you will, too.
An excerpt from a journal from Ayacucho, Peru:
“Celia has faced many difficulties in her life- her husband left her 21 years ago to raise 11 children on her own. She has lost three of those children, one just last year, and of the remaining children left in her care, three of them are blind due to a hereditary illness. While a challenge...Continue Reading >>