Jun 1, 2008 ID Indonesia

WARNING: The following post has nothing to do with microfinance, microwaves or microphones. Not even Micro Machines. That said…                

I was in a fight yesterday.

           Yesterday, I lost that fight.  Badly.  It wasn’t even close.  It was one of those, “was he even trying?” or “he’ll never walk again!” kind of beat downs.  The worst part was, I paid for the privilege of this fight. 

    Having left the States on May 26th on my way to my 10 week fellowship in Indonesia, I scheduled a three full day stop-over in...

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Jun 1, 2008 KH Cambodia

Probably one of the biggest issues facing microfinance today is that of impact. To what extent has microfinance actually affected global poverty? In what ways can its impact be measured, and how sustainable is it? Will it continue to grow? Though I agree that understanding impact is crucial and developing social impact studies and matrices is a valuable undertaking, I question the ability we have to concretely measure the more soft-data effects. How does one quantify the feeling of being better off?

One of the main responsibilities of Kiva fellows is to assist with the...

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May 31, 2008 UG Uganda

The first week I came to MCDT, Justine, my supervisor, and Olivia, her supervisor, were looking at pictures of borrowers they were preparing to post to the Kiva website.  They called me over to look at one person in particular, standing in the middle of a group of five and said, “You must meet Ruth!”  They told me she was the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit and a real survivor.  They told me how she’s living with AIDS and lost her husband to the disease 10 years ago.  They told me how she as at least 5 businesses.  I didn’t know quite what that...

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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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