Jul 16, 2008 GT Guatemala

My time at Friendship Bridge has come to an end and I’m off to Guatemala City to start the next phase of my fellowship with la Fundación de Asistencia para la Pequeña Empresa (FAPE).  Before I launch into my work at FAPE, I’ll attempt to reflect back on my time with Friendship Bridge a bit. 


First of all, being a Kiva Fellow is fantastic work.  I’ve spent much of my time traveling around a beautiful country, meeting with incredible women, and talking with them about...

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Jul 16, 2008 PY Paraguay

Visiting clients with Fundación Paraguaya hasn’t been exactly what I expected. Fundación clients aren’t being “lifted out of poverty.” They aren’t the poorest of the poor in Paraguay. Most of the time, their loans are simply maintaining a status quo, economically speaking. So far, I’ve visited clients based out of four branch offices, and they have a lot in common. Like many MFIs, Fundación clients are often repeat borrowers. They are already entrepreneurs before they receive their first loan. The classic example is the couple that owns the despensa, a small local grocery/variety store...

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Jul 16, 2008 KH Cambodia

After a wonderful 25-hour journey from New York, I finally made it to Cambodia! My first order of business was to get my visa at the airport, but that turned out to be a breeze. I filled out a visa application and it was passed along a line of 8 Cambodian officials who were seated in a row behind a counter. After 15 minutes and $25 I had my 30-day business visa (which I have to extend soon). When I left the airport I had to make the very difficult decision between a $9 taxi ride or a $7 tuk-tuk ride. The guy selling tuk-tuk rides made a compelling argument, that...

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Jul 16, 2008 ID Indonesia

Turkey, stuffing and beer.

BBQ ribs, corn on the cob and beer.

Beer with a side of beer, with beer on top.

When trying to think of what authentic American dinner I could cook for my host family to show my appreciation of their hospitality, I thought of some of my favorite wholesome,...

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Jul 15, 2008 MX Mexico

Two weeks have passed since I started work at Fundación Para La Vivienda Progresiva, or Foundation for Progressive Housing. I am still very much in absorption mode, so for now I will rely on broad strokes to paint the picture of what FVP is all about.

The organization is located right across the border from the U.S., with offices in the border towns of Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Acuña, and, soon, Piedras Negras. In short, FVP helps people in the border region to build housing and to start or grow small businesses. Housing is in its title because FVP...

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Jul 14, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

My experiences here in Tajikistan over the past several weeks have run the full spectrum of human emotion.  I have laughed with astonishment at the absurd amounts of food that have been forced down my throat, stuffed like a pig all in the name of “hospitality”; I have been saddened and amazed by the industry of young porters who abandon school at the age of ten, forgoing their childhoods in order to earn a couple dollars a day carrying fruit, bread, and meat through the vast, chaotic scene of the Panjshanbe bazaar; I have been humbled by...

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Jul 13, 2008 KE Kenya

I have made it safe and on time to my destination in Kisumu, Kenya. It has been a rush. Before I left, Dr. Omedi Ochieng, told me that nothing could prepared me to fully understand what Africa would be. Personal descriptions, books, photos, data, only go so far Prior to my departure I believed that I had a cerebral understanding of what Africa would be like, but being here the visceral experience is daunting.

My head is slowly catching up and as I look around I know that Kiva and micro-...

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Jul 10, 2008 KH Cambodia

I was surprised to discover earlier this week that I have approached the halfway point of my Kiva fellowship. Upon this realization I was frustrated because of how little I still know about microfinance, development, and rural Cambodia and how little time I have left in my fellowship to advance my understandings on these topics.

That said, I am incredibly indebted to both Kiva and MAXIMA Mikroheranhvatho Co. Ltd to the exposure they have provided me to these issues. Short of complete rural immersion, I cannot imagine a more authentic and candid glimpse of the...

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Jul 9, 2008 KH Cambodia

I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t experience it myself, but Cambodia is a great place to celebrate American Independence Day. If you don’t believe me, I have the pictures to prove it!

This weekend was jam packed with, among other things, a fireworks show on the evening of the 4th and a large celebration at the US embassy in the capital city of Phnom Penh. The event included the typical American fare of burgers, hot dogs, donuts and beer, and enough American activities to make me feel like I was at home again.

As soon as I...

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Jul 9, 2008 SN Senegal

I am beginning to think that Senegal is the land of happiness. Not only do young people often use this English word — along with “nice,” “fine,” and “cool” — to express that everything is OK (in reference to a popular comedian), but my Wolof teacher, Fatou, has informed me that the national language has no easy way of saying “I’m frustrated,” or even for that matter “I’m sad.” Or “what a pity.” Should I attribute this to the complexity of a language that also happens to have no adjectives, or...

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