moshawaf

Fellows Blog Posts by moshawaf

Feb 3, 2010

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

Wael and Mohammad (left to right) are Kiva clients in Gaza

I had heard that more than half of Gaza’s population lived under the poverty line (http://bit.ly/4mI5EU). I knew that since Hamas’ rise to power in Gaza–and its expulsion of its secular rival and the presiding party in the West Bank, Fatah–Israel had enacted a military blockade, allowing only “basic humanitarian supplies...

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Feb 3, 2010

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

Wael and Mohammad (left to right) are Kiva clients in Gaza

I had heard that more than half of Gaza’s population lived under the poverty line (http://bit.ly/4mI5EU). I knew that since Hamas’ rise to power in Gaza–and its expulsion of its secular rival and the presiding party in the West Bank, Fatah–Israel had enacted a military blockade, allowing only “basic humanitarian supplies...

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Dec 14, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine  

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that “microenterpise is uniquely designed to empower women…”  The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls the oppression of women worldwide the “human rights cause of our time” and encourages people who want to get involved to (among other things) lend to a woman entrepreneur on Kiva.

These are weighty observations from important people.  But how do these bold statements translate in a region of the world historically disparaged for the role...

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Dec 7, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

Kiva Client Hasan in front of his cab and only source of family's income. Still, other priorities have surpassed it.

 

Lately, I’ve been trying to rationalize the fact that of the ten borrowers I’ve visited in cities and villages throughout the West Bank, I haven’t met anyone who’s “lifted themselves out of poverty,” the most common social motive for microfinance organizations and practitioners and one...

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Nov 26, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

On the day before the third Thursday in November, I attempted to reach my family while avoiding the heavy traffic of cars fleeing home and hurried, last-minute shoppers darting in and out of now-bustling stores.

Sound familiar?

Only I’m not heading to Pacific Grove, California on Thanksgiving eve to argue with my mom and sisters (on again, off again vegetarians) about the necessity of a large, respectable turkey at the centerpiece of the table. 
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Nov 13, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

Recently, Kiva’s been engulfed in controversy over how it presents its Person-to-Person lending platform–a convenient shorthand for the reality on the ground or a more draconian attempt to mislead the casual lender?  I will not weigh in on this specific debate because there is already a rich dialogue that has taken place. However, I have noticed that a theme in some of the posts and responses has been to lament the limitations of P2P lending today.  

In this equation, the microfinance institutions (...

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Nov 9, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

Before proceeding, let me first state that this is not a political blog.  I neither have the expertise nor desire to engage in the complex web of conflict–latent or otherwise–that surrounds the major events of the last decade in Palestine.  I will attempt to reference and explain only the events that help me tell the story of the resiliency of the Palestinian microfinance sector and in particular, of Ryada.  I implore those interested in learning more to do just that.  Although it requires a bit of fiddling around, the ...

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Oct 26, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

 

I’ve been in Palestine for one week and have feared for my life.  Have I reinforced the stereotype yet?  It might be surprising to learn that the only times I have actually felt scared here have been dodging reckless drivers, not bullets.

But that’s me.  On my first day in the field I learned an important lesson: risks are calculated and danger is in the eye of the beholder.

I witnessed the first example of this rule on the way to Hebron, the West Bank’s...

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Oct 18, 2009

By Mohammed Al-Shawaf, KF9 Palestine

Veer Right to Cross Into Israel/Palestine

I’ve discovered the best time to reflect: It’s in between the second and third rounds of interrogation at the Israeli side of the King Hussein Bridge border after fielding the same question over and over–”So…why are you here?”

I first recalled how eerily similar these questions were to the first...

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