Aug 13, 2008 VN Vietnam

I proudly remember how for the first 2 years of high school I was considered quite tall and got to stand for the annual class photo. From the 3rd year onwards however I was eclipsed as puberty prevailed in others. From then on I sat in the front row, demurely folding my hands in my lap. Not that I am short – I am 167cm tall – which by western standards makes me an average height. I would also describe my build as average – you will have to take my word for it as I have no intention of publically disclosing any vital statistics! So I pretty much...

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Aug 12, 2008 KH Cambodia

For the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of data entry. Panith, the AMK Kiva coordinator, and I have been going through all the Kiva business descriptions so that we could enter their account numbers into an excel worksheet. This will allow us to easily track payments of all the Kiva loans. (AMK just got out of pilot stage with Kiva, so they’re still incorporating it into their business.) If I had been doing this for another job I probably would have been bored out of my mind, but going through all the data for three of AMK’s provinces turned out to be quite interesting....

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Aug 12, 2008 NG Nigeria

I am a WASP – white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. My parents rarely yelled, spankings were rare and more painful for my mother than me and requests were granted only when accompanied by the obligatory “please” and followed by “thank you.” On Sundays my family sat in well-ordered pews quietly listening to sermons, bowing our heads in silent prayers and rising (as directed) to sing hymns from notations in a book. At school my friends and I were scolded for being late in an effort to train us all in the expectations of the culturally dominant WASPs who value time commitments and punctuality....

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Aug 11, 2008 GT Guatemala


Two weeks ago FAPE launched a new program. After months of fighting bureaucracy, they finally got permission to give loans to female prisoners at the Centro Preventivo de Rehabilitación Santa Teresa (loosely translated, the Santa Teresa Prevention Center for Rehabilitation). The program was kicked off with a weeklong training called ISUN (Inicie su...

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Aug 11, 2008 BA Bosnia and Herzegovina


There is a lot of talk here and elsewhere as to whether or not microfinance (or any kind of aid for that matter) works.  Is what anyone says the truth or just perceptions and opinions?   It would be nice to have a definite answer, but it always seems a little more complicated than that. 



In my past experience working with volunteers and in nonprofits, I noticed how this lack of certainty over results can trigger...

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Aug 7, 2008 VN Vietnam

Beep! Beep beep beep! This is the natural sound of the habitat that is downtown Hanoi. There is an endless cacophony of horns – sometimes short and squeaky, other times longer and more insistent. There is no aggression intended – the horn is to warn the pedestrian or cyclist ahead that their motorbike ( more of a scooter really ) or car is bearing down on you and that you should not pick this moment to change direction. Driving in Hanoi should be classified as an extreme sport. Insert small confession – I have actually ridden as a...

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Aug 5, 2008 MZ Mozambique

A week ago, Regina Jose, Hluvuku’s client in Mozambique, received a brand new wheelchair to replace her broken one!!! KivaFriends donated it, and with the help of many people it was bought, transported from South Africa to Mozambique and delivered to her!!

Regina was so happy with her new wheelchair that she even cried! Now she will be able to resume her activities and will go to church on Sundays, something she described as her favorite activity. As I wrote in my last blog, it took just over one month since my first journal about Regina to get all this done. One of Regina’s lenders...

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Aug 5, 2008 TZ Tanzania

I never thought I would move to Tanzania to learn about Bengali culture, but then again I never thought I’d eat octopus for dinner so sometimes one must adjust expectations.  How have I happened to find myself sitting in an office shared by one Bengali woman, one Tanzanian woman, and me?  Such is life at BRAC Tanzania’s country office. 

BRAC Tanzania is one of the international legs of the Bengali NGO BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee).  Started in 1972, BRAC has grown to be the largest NGO in the world and employs over...

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Aug 4, 2008 CM Cameroon

On Friday, three members of the GHAPE office went to the funeral of one of our members, Bih Josopha. She was 48 years old and left eight children behind, four of whom are under the age of 14. The daughter had come to the office to inform us of her passing on Thursday, immediately after it occurred, and we decided which office members would go and pay dues. For GHAPE members, attendance at a fellow member’s funeral is compulsory, punishable by a fine. Some of the members were a little discontented when the burial was

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Aug 1, 2008 GT Guatemala

As my fellowship continues to fly by, I’ve had many, many positive experiences, and really only one low point, which I’ll get to after reporting a little on my latest work. I’ve now been at FAPE for two weeks and it’s been fascinating to see the similarities and differences between the two organizations I’ve had the privilege of working with. FAPE is a much smaller organization than Friendship Bridge and FB has access to many more resources, as they are based out of Colorado and therefore have various sources of U.S. support. FAPE is a...

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