Nov 24, 2008 VN Vietnam

My mother grew up during WWII. She can make a little go a long way. But she’s no match for the Vietnamese. A couple of nights ago, at my translator’s house, we had chicken.

It is no fun being a chicken. But at least they weren't battery chickens!

Not chicken breasts or chicken thighs but chicken vertebrae. The amount of meat on a chicken’s vertebra is virtually nil. Common sense would accurately lead you to such a conclusion. But the...

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Nov 24, 2008 KH Cambodia

In my last post, I talked about visiting a client with Phanith, the AMK Kiva coordinator. The client officer (a.k.a. loan officer) was not available to take us, so we relied on a hand written map that got us lost many, many times. We had to ask almost every villager we saw, before we finally got to the client.

Getting lost in a village got my mind thinking about how nice it would be if we had an actual map with the locations of clients and how to get to them. So I spoke to Paul, the CEO of AMK, about how we could give GPS devices to our client officers. This would let us track them...

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Nov 20, 2008 CM Cameroon

This week has been completely exhausting, but one of the best weeks I’ve had here. I’ve been out in the field every morning this week—I still have tomorrow morning as well. Some of the centers have been quite far away, requiring me to leave at around 5:45 or so in the morning and catching a bike while it’s still dark. I like the longer rides though, I get to see more of Cameroon and get out of Bamenda. One of the rides to a center, Beatrice and I shared a bike. The driver told us he knew a short cut, and we went zooming through a foot path. The grass had grown over and was now hanging into...

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Nov 20, 2008 SL Sierra Leone

By Adam Grenier, KF6 Sierra Leone

Excerpt from recent conversation with Archibald Shodeke, Finance Manager, SMT:

Archibald:  “Would you like to participate in a market survey of the Waterloo district near Freetown?  We are considering a partnership with a U.S. based organization called Shine on...

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Nov 19, 2008 KH Cambodia

Wow, this Kiva world is small. The other day, while I was attending a United States Presidential election-day event with a good portion of the other expats in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I noticed a woman just as teary-eyed as me as the results rolled in for President Elect Barack Obama. Both overwhelmed with emotion, we gave each other a hug out of pure joy. Then we just started talking, launching into a familiar round of questions you ask when you live or travel abroad.

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Nov 19, 2008 RW Rwanda

The noon-day heat of equatorial sun beat down on tin roofs and dirt roads. It was quiet, the sounds a little muffled outside the paint shop of Rwandese Kiva client Marie Chantal Mukasafali.

“The business is good here,” she says, “thank goodness our inventory doesn’t spoil.”

Marie Chantal, operator of this small enterprise for well over a decade, has kept her eyes open for...

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Nov 19, 2008 RW Rwanda

Yes, as I am leaving. Julie Ross, the next Kiva Fellow to be placed in Rwanda, will take over with better and I’m sure more consistent postings here. But in the meantime, a quick note on some of the staff here at VFC, whom you will soon meet in more detail:

The Managing Director, Shem, is a genial and humorous man from Uganda. He is a new director here, having done previous work in other accounting and finance positions, including the largest microfinance institution...

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Nov 19, 2008 PE Peru

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...

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Nov 19, 2008

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...

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