When I was preparing for my Kiva Fellowship in Tajikistan I had to buy one of the most expensive plane tickets of my life. Getting to Dushanbe, the capital, is expensive, at the cheapest its $1,500. I wondered if I could spend this on giving loans on Kiva how awesome that would be. Even if I would give a portion it would be amazing. Then I bought a few books online so that I could be an informed traveler. And of course a few other things. In total, I spent a lot of money shopping in preparation for my Kiva Fellowship. I thought of it as going to a good cause in the end, since I was doing...Continue Reading >>
Fellows Blog Posts by Sam
The road going over the pass has drops down the side in which one can see the bodies of former semis, trucks, and cars which slid down the side of the road. The second time I took the road my driver told me, “That always happens in winter, but how else are you going to get goods from one place to another.” The main road linking Dushanbe (the capital) and Khujand (the second largest city) is interesting to say the least. Going over 9,000 feet at one point, and with parts of the road being dirt, or when it rains mud, this is the only internal artery that connects the two main...Continue Reading >>
I never thought my Kiva Fellowship would deal so much with cotton, without actually dealing with cotton. Today one thing Central Asia, especially Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, are known for is cotton, if they are known at all (All make top 10 list of cotton exporters). In Tajikistan it is everywhere, with pictures of cotton and even statues of cotton, the state symbol also has cotton on it. Cotton has driven much of the history of Central Asia and Tajikistan. So one begins to wonder: how did cotton become such an important crop, and what has been its consequences?
In the...Continue Reading >>
She looked at me very sternly, as if I had said something wrong. I knew that her students must be very obedient because she was arguably the most intimidating teacher I had met in a post-soviet country, and I had met a lot of them. Rosa, as she wanted me to call her, even though it wasn’t her name, was a teacher in a secondary school.
“You must, um, understand Sam,” she started out, as if trying to figure out how to word her sentences correctly in English, “Tajikistan today, is not all of the land of Tajiks. Samarkand and Bukhara are also part of the wider land of Tajiks.”
“...Continue Reading >>
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”- RFK
The first news reports on BBC, New York Times, and AP said that the bomb went off at 8:10 in the morning. I swear though, that I heard it at 8:04. It’s not every day that a young American not serving in the armed forces...Continue Reading >>
I remember it was my first day in Khujand, in northern Tajikistan, when I first heard there were 100 or more microfinance organizations in Tajikistan. I was slightly shocked. Clearly this was some mistake. The next day, I found out it wasn’t.
There are many small and medium MFI’s (Microfinance Institutions) in Tajikistan, around 90, and there are also a few large ones, and a few banks as well. The most interesting aspect to me is that there are so many that even the AMFOT- Association of Micro-Finance Organizations of Tajikistan, doesn’t have exact numbers of the amount of MFI’s in...Continue Reading >>
If you look up Tajikistan on Kiva you can find some loans for 50$ and 75$, but you also can find 4,000$ loans. On average farming vegetables and fruit loans are between 125$-900$ (there are those that are over, but the good portion lie within this range). These loans are small compared to the rest of the loans from Tajikistan, but they have monumental impact.
If you read any of the economic stats on Tajikistan a few things jump out at you. Number one) they do not export a lot and number two) the area in which to make these commodities are few and far between. The list of exports are...Continue Reading >>
I recently began work at MDO Arvand, formerly MicroInvest. Arvand, which will soon return to the Kiva website, is currently growing and expanding its client base in Northern Tajikistan. It has created an interesting way to explain Microfinance to its clients, but also to its clients children. Using a Tajik Fairy Tale it has written a small book that it hands out to its clients titled “The Stork and the Golden Grain”. The stork is the bird of good luck in this part of the world.Continue Reading >>
As one of the new Kiva Fellows who will be in the field by the end of month, I bubble with excitement about going to a foreign country and helping Kiva. I tell anyone who asks that I am going to Tajikistan, usually with a big smile, or at least excitement in my voice.
People usually look at me with the squinty eyed pondering look, then I get asked a lot of the same questions:
1. What country is that?
2. Is that even a real country???
3. Ok, ok, so if it is real, where is it?
4. How do you spell that?
5. Why do you want to go there?
I do not...Continue Reading >>