Pictures and Perspectives from South Africa
As a fellow, the hardest part of working with a new Kiva field partner can also be the most rewarding. Learning to live and work in an environment without the benefit of a previous fellow’s experience can be challenging. When I arrived in Richards Bay in November, I scrambled to establish accommodations, transportation, and learn my way around an area of South Africa typically ignored by tourists. As such, the area offers little infrastructure for temporary residents. I was lucky enough to find a room to rent in my first week, but it took me longer to learn my way around the city (using its abundant factories as landmarks) and purchase a scooter to get around.
Having spent three months visiting WDB’s clients across different regions of the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, I was lulled into feeling that I really knew South Africa. Because these regions are so expansive, it’s easy to forget how large the country itself is and how different its provinces are. Last week I traveled to Cape Town (in the Western Cape province) to meet Alexis, a member of the 14th class of fellows and my replacement at WDB. We took the opportunity to drive from Cape Town back to Richards Bay – 24 hours of driving across three days and four provinces. (You can read Alexis’s great post about our road trip and her start at WDB.)
In addition to the beautiful scenery along the way, the journey helped me to realize how much more there is to learn about South Africa. Each of its provinces is unique and offers different cultures and a different slice of life. From the farm lands of the Karoo to the lush rolling hills of the Free State and KZN, South Africa has a lot to offer. (WDB works across four of South Africa’s regions, focusing on the most rural and poorest villages.)
Although I have much to learn about South Africa, I’m excited to pass on my hard earned tips about life in Richards Bay and working with WDB to Alexis. During the time we share together and before my fellowship ends, I’ll introduce her to all of the dedicated people at WDB that she will work with to scale up the Kiva program here. Hopefully she will also benefit from my experiences in Richards Bay – where to go for the best curry, the best time to get groceries, and of course how to get to the beach!
If you’re interested in the fellows program, learn about how you can become one.
EB Moore is a KF13 working with Women’s Development Businesses (WDB) in South Africa. With just a couple weeks left in her fellowship, she’s busily wrapping up her projects and working with Alexis to make sure WDB’s Kiva relationship continues to grow.