jonbuser

Fellows Blog Posts by jonbuser

May 9, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

Families in rural Azerbaijan are heavily reliant on farm animals, often just a handful of sheep and a cow, for food and income. Microcredit loans allow enterprising individuals to scale up animal raising activities so that excess milk, cheese, wool, and offspring can be sold for a profit. But where does one go to buy a cow or a half dozen sheep? I learned that once a week as many as 4,000 farmers congregate with their animals to exchange ownership at the Livestock Bazaar. Kiva’s field partner, Aqroinvest arranged for me to meet a client and conduct an interview at the...

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Apr 16, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

The biggest holiday in Azerbaijan is Novruz. This spring event has its roots as a pre-Islam New Year celebration. It officially begins on the spring equinox but the celebration ramps up much earlier with large street bonfires every Tuesday for the month preceding Novruz. Each week represents a different element: earth, water, air, and fire. Much of the community comes out for the bonfires to socialize and listen to music. Tradition calls for fearless youth to jump across the bonfire regardless or how large it is. On one occasion I witnessed a boy run through a fire along a burning pole...

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Mar 13, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

Stepping out onto the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital city is a quick way to gain insight on the local economic situation. The streets of Baku, much like other large cities, are plagued with traffic and drivers who use their horns more than they obey any sort of traffic laws. The mixture of vehicles that fill the roads is telling of the wealth disparity. Public transport is accomplished by aging mini-buses called marshrutkas plying the streets in all directions. Larger city buses are mostly absent so these marshrutkas provide the most comprehensive city transport in Baku. Although bus...

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