Feb 8, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Dr. Victoria Kisyombe pic

Mambo from Dar es Salaam! Mambo to the staff at Kiva, my fellow Fellows, our MFI partners, kiva lenders, and anyone else who wants to jump on the kiva rollercoaster. My apologies for failing to share my impressions of SELFINA, Dar es Salaam, and Tanzania for almost two months. The only excuse I can give is that kiva.org has been too generous with its posting limit, kiva lenders have been too generous and quick with their support, and the subsequent workload has kept me too busy to even think about blogging! 

Perhaps the best way to introduce SELFINA...

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Feb 5, 2008 TZ Tanzania

It is difficult to adequately describe the contrast between the frozen homogeneity of suburban Minneapolis which I left, and the noisy and chaotic vibrancy of Dar es Salaam. I traveled through five airports over the course of three days, and touched down in Dar es Salaam on Sunday in a jet-lag induced daze. Not quite knowing what to expect, I shouldered my touristy hiking backpack, and walked out of the international arrivals terminal – directly into the middle of a political demonstration

Thousands of Tanzanians were crowded around the doors of the terminal and...

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Feb 4, 2008

On Friday everyone shows up at the office dressed up. Mostly for religious reasons, but it’s a refreshing reversal of casual Friday. It’s our all-hands day, where everyone from the different parts of Abidjan meets here at 4pm. I saved the chocolates I brought for this day, and shared with everyone. I really enjoy meeting all the field officers- they are truly the heart & soul of this operation. Everyone I have met so far has been enthusiastic and friendly.

It is a hard life here. I walked through the market last night, it’s an open-air market much like you’d see in Mexico, with...

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Feb 1, 2008

Just a quick post for those who were wondering how the meeting with Maman Fannie went… she missed her appointment! I was so bummed. I stopped by her apartment that night, and it turns out one of the children had gotten sick, and she’d taken care of her. But I had the sense that was just an excuse. She’d never even heard of microfinance before I talked to her about it, and so I imagine there is some hesitation on her part to meet with a financial institution on her own. I’m giving her space, so she doesn’t feel pressured by me… but next week, I’m...

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Jan 30, 2008 GH Ghana

My name is Dan Strack and for the next 2 months I will be living in Cape Coast, Ghana and working with the Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN).  

CRAN has 7 branches located throughout the central region of Ghana with its main office in Cape Coast.  Cape Coast is a very poor area with some of the kindest people I’ve ever encountered.  The first thing you notice in Ghana and especially Cape Coast, is how extremely religious everyone is.  Many road-side businesses have names such as “God is Great: Hair Salon” or “Jesus is the Savior: Food Stand”.  Cars, buses, telephone poles, you name...

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Jan 28, 2008 KH Cambodia

 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...

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Jan 28, 2008

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...

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Jan 26, 2008

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...

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Jan 25, 2008 KH Cambodia

This will be short, as it concerns my last blog entry. First and foremost, I should reiterate the importance of editing, which, no longer being recquired to do so at work, has meant that I have become what is called “fastidious.” Fastidiousness has its consequences, namely that, in my encounter with Anchor butter, I said that it WAS swill instead of saying that it is not. More importantly, I said that Thy gave me a gun. I am not exactly sure how gun came out, but it does share two letters with the word I meant, hug. Thus, for those of you who are concerned that I am...
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Jan 23, 2008 KH Cambodia

I will begin where I left off, my trip and arrival back in Cambodia. Ahem, rather, I will start with memories of my first time here. As is one of my customs when traveling, I feel it is necessary to sample the various local brewers’ specialties. In Cambodia, this means Anchor and Angkor beer. Har licquor, it seems, is largely westernized (Johnny Walker comes to mind), and this may be ignorance on my part, but other...
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