I am living in the attic of a blue house, which I share with fish farmers in the Bosnian countryside. I have a small kitchen (with a tea kettle and 6 espresso cups), a living room decorated with antique dolls, and a bedroom that smells like the suitcase of a grandparent. It is a musty and warm oasis. Behind the house are vegetable gardens and pools of fish and a guard dog (named Garo) who no longer pulls on his chain. There is a dirt path that I can follow for hours, past sheep and cemeteries and forgotten homes.... Continue Reading >>
I have to be honest, I was slightly terrified to become a Kiva Fellow, to travel halfway across the world to a place I had to look up on a map. Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for all the right reasons: I really believe in the way that Kiva operates, I wanted to delve deeper into the world of microfinance, and I thought that a three month sabbatical might help me gain some perspective.
But I also had a lot of little voices building up in the back of my head that didn’t think this was such a good idea. I felt uncertain: I don’t speak Russian...Continue Reading >>
People always use toothpicks after meals…you don’t “get off” a bus or Matatu, you “alight” (I have actually never heard this word before)…people make “blunders” instead of “mistakes”…Kenya produces great coffee, but since the domestic demand is rather for tea, most places serving coffee here are surprisingly bad…people love eating meat…when I ask people for directions, they assume that I am utterly helpless and may not make it to where I am going…if my colleagues give me directions, they want me to send them an SMS once I arrive, so that they know that I made it safely…...Continue Reading >>
Nairobi is a mad, mad place for the unfamiliar visitor. Traffic, pollution, swarms of people…
The simplest, most convenient way to get around is on a Matatu. A Matatu is a little van, almost like a VW bus, except outfitted with seats for 14 people…and sometimes a flat screen TV and Pioneer speakers, which are always pumping some kind of reggae or American hip hop through the little van.
Matatus rule the road, or at least they think they do. The sliding door is almost always open, with the “Matatu Manager” hanging out of...Continue Reading >>
My name is David Stewart and I am the Kiva Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya. I am working with Opportunity Kenya, part of Opportunity International. Opportunity just bought Sunlink, a small MFI here in Nairobi. I am here to help the transition and get all of the Sunlink staff on board with this thing from the US we know (and love) as Kiva….but before I got here….
It was virtually impossible to write anything before leaving the States for Nairobi. There was simply too much movement, too much momentum to stop and capture my thoughts.... Continue Reading >>
Well now is your chance!!!
I will be visiting the Siphat Yang Village Bank and the Chon Erm Village Bank Group this Thursday. If you want me to ask the members of the village bank a question, send me an email with your question: sanjaya.punyasena AT fellows.kiva.org
This is the first time I’m trying this, so I might run into some problems. I want to apologize in advance if I am unable to ask your question. If you could send me your questions before October 15th, that would be great!
Also, if you haven’t voted for Kiva on the American Express Members Project...Continue Reading >>
Hello Kiva Fans,
A little more than a week ago I was sitting on the plane for the last hour of what had been a 36 hour journey – Boston, New York, Zurich, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam. I watched as the computer generated plane tracker moved across the Kenya/Tanzania border and tried to steady myself for the new circumstances I was about to enter.
This week, I want to share some of the pleasant surprises – of which there are many. One of the unfortunate unintended consequences of the dogged, and at times heroic, efforts of many to highlight to suffering on this continent...Continue Reading >>
As a former Soviet state, home of the Orange Revolution, and under-journalized European backwater, Ukraine certainly has an image problem. It brings to mind images of inscrutable bureaucracy, frozen winters, and monotonous apartment blocks. Except to those of us who have visited the country or known citizens of Ukraine, it does not bring to mind the sorts of struggling poor that microfinance institutions typically serve.
A past fellow to Tanzania, Alec Lovett, posted two blogs on “You Know You’re in Tanzania When…” I’ve posted the links to his blogs and added volume III with my own observations. Enjoy!
Volume III... Continue Reading >>