yelenashuster

Fellows Blog Posts by yelenashuster

Aug 17, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Yelena Shuster, KF 11, Azerbaijan

For some, traveling abroad is an exotic means of recreation, for others it is a learning experience. I cannot find statistics reciting the numbers and nationalities of people who go abroad each year, but from my experience as a backpacker and Kiva fellow, most people who travel (either for leisure, student exchange or professional duties) come from one of the 32 developed countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan,...

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Aug 5, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Yelena Shuster, KF 11, Azerbaijan

Being a loan officer has its perilous moments. The scary Caucasian shepherd dogs that guard client’s homes and threaten to bite you and the difficult to find addresses of remote properties that one must search for in the unrelenting summer heat are obstacles. Then there are the numerous unforeseen hazards one encounters trying to go the extra mile as a loan officer…

Last week one of our loan officers at Komak went to meet a new client, a tomato farmer from the Absheron region. To get a better picture of the borrower...

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Jul 28, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Yelena Shuster, KF 11, Azerbaijan

I’d like to tell you about language in Azerbaijan especially since there have been some questions among Kiva lenders and translation volunteers as to why Komak is posting profiles in Russian using Latin letters instead of Cyrillic.

You see, since the start of the 20th century the Azeri alphabet has metamorphosed 3 times…

  • Prior to 1929 Azeri was written in Perso-Arabic script.
  • 1929–1938 A Latin alphabet was used (although it was different from the one used now).
  • 1938 to 1991 The Cyrillic alphabet was...
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Jul 10, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Yelena Shuster, KF 11, Azerbaijan

Last Tuesday I traveled from Baku to Fuzuli, a rural region in southwestern Azerbaijan, to meet two clients for borrower verification. The drive took us 4 hours (and 4 more to return), on a hot winding road that was paved but a few years ago. We drove past the Iranian border, a simple gate with vegetation behind it and no soldiers. Like custom dictates, we stopped for tea along the way at one of the road stops.

I was excited to go to Fuzuli. Named after a renowned Azeri poet of the 15th century, Fuzuli today is one of the “...

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Jun 25, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

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Yelena Shuster is a Kiva Fellow serving with Komak Credit Union in Azerbaijan. Support Komak borrowers and join our team Friends of Komak!

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Jun 11, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Yelena Shuster, K11, Azerbaijan

I’d like to tell you a little bit about Komak, the MFI (microfinance institution), where I am serving my Kiva fellowship.  Komak, which means “help” in Azerbaijani, has offices in four regions: Baku, Absheron, Khachmas and Fizuli. The central office, where I have spent most of my time is located in Baku, the capital city. Here I work with five other people: Aydin, the director; Emin, information technology; Aliabbas, accounting; Elnur, bookkeeping; and Afitab, the Kiva coordinator. With over 1,600 current active members,...

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May 30, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

Yelena Shuster, K11, Azerbaijan

Greetings from Azerbaijan!

It’s been almost two weeks since my arrival. Not surprisingly, my impressions are multifarious. I enjoy the good and blast the bad, all the while trying to understand this country and its contradictions. On the one side is the growing economy, with multiple natural resources, on the other are the many people who do not get to bask in Azerbaijan’s growing wealth. While expensive stores line the streets that lead to the beautiful boardwalk along the Caspian sea, where young chick Azerbaijanis eat ice cream as...

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May 24, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Yelena Shuster, K11, Azerbaijan

Last week I arrived in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan to begin my three-month fellowship at Komak credit union. For me, Baku is a special place because like the country of my birth (Ukraine) it was one of the 15 republics that made up the former Soviet Union.

So you may wonder, where is Azerbaijan?click on the map below for details

Azerbaijan is a small country located on the cusp of Euro-Asia, bordered by Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Iran and the Caspian sea. In Baku, many...

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