Posts filed under ‘East Asia & the Pacific (EAP)’
Keith Baillie | KF19 | Philippines
Part I: Construction of a New Community
Following the Sendong typhoon, many Cagayan de Oro residents were displaced. I visited one of the resettlement villages, Xavier Ecoville. Flood victims are still currently living in temporary wooden accommodation built by agencies like Habitat for Humanity.
Among the first facilities constructed are a church and a community hall. There are also a health and family planning center, day care and preschool facilities, and covered basketball and volleyball court. Housing is in low-rise terraces, enabling neighbors to mingle in the street.
Part II: Factors Driving Community Spirit
If I mention that I am visiting or eating somewhere, they always ask “Who’s with you, sir?” I ask myself “What are the factors that drive the strong Filipino sense of community?” Here are some factors that occur to me:
- Strong family bonds. Filipinos typically have large families. Working children are responsible for helping support parents and younger siblings (including their education). Children will frequently work abroad to accomplish this. Such family obligations imprint a model for shared responsibility in the broader community.
Note: However, nowadays many Filipino couples separate and many children are born outside of marriage. Nevertheless, parents or grandparents always take care of the children if the mother cannot.
- Living accommodation. Single Filipinos typically live with their family until they marry and establish their own family home. Young Filipinos studying or working away from home typically live with colleagues in boarding houses, which provides a community atmosphere in place of the family home. Few Filipinos live completely alone, even when elderly.
- Shared religion. (I have worked in Christian areas but suspect the same holds true in Muslim and indigenous areas.) Almost all Filipinos I have met have a strong, active Christian faith. Although most are Catholic, other denominations are integrated in non-sectarian events, like religious festivals/fiestas and office devotionals. One of the first questions Filipinos ask me is “What is your religion?”
- Avoidance of conflict. Filipinos rarely get angry or raise their voices. If I say something critical, a Filipino will ask “Are you mad at me, Sir?” leading me to soften my response. I do not see angry rows or fights even in drinking establishments. When I berated a young girl for pushing in front of me in a grocery line, she just remained silent. And when my motorcycle taxi nearly collided with a motorcyclist who had pulled in front of him, there were no expletives. They both just smiled and chuckled.
- Community service. I met a large group of students who were studying a college course in cleaning neighborhoods and planting mangroves. When they graduate, they will be unpaid volunteers. In the cooperatives I have visited, serving the community (especially the poor) is always stressed in the devotionals and board members provide their time for free.
- Performances and shows. Church, school, college and office events bring people together to practice for dance performances, beauty contests, sports contests, etc.
- Fiestas. Each municipality has an annual fiesta when community members who live away return home. There are family reunions, school reunions, church services, public entertainments, and the roaming meals where people visit a succession of homes to eat.
- Texting. Throughout the day, Filipinos text small talk like “Good morning!” and “Have you had your breakfast?” This is an extension of normal social interaction.
- Maintenance of local bonds while away. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) maintain social connections with others from their city or region – for example maids in Hong Kong or workers in the Middle East congregate on particular streets or intersections designated for their home location.
Whatever the reasons, there is no doubt that Filipinos have a strong sense of community – both with other Filipinos and (happily) in welcoming visitors from other cultures.
Afterthought: This may explain why Filipinos so readily ask foreigners for money. When they see financial inequality, it seems only right to share it. However, they don’t seem to resent the rich-poor divide within their own country enough to change it.
By Kiva Fellows | KF19 | All Over the World
With January 2013 coming to an end, KF19 fellows are either continuing on with KF20 or returning home to various responsibilities and careers. Regardless of the next adventure or destination, one thing is common among all: KF19 fellows have been permanently changed by their placements.
What began as a joint blog post about any person, place, or event during the course of the fellowship that affected our lives, of itself turned into simply the one person who left the most impact. Afterall, Kiva’s mission is to alleviate poverty through connecting people. The fellows of KF19 have witnessed this connection over the course of the last three to four months, and nothing could have prepared us for meeting the people who would touch our lives in various ways.
KF19 presents to you Kiva One, a small collection of stories about human connections, hope, and inspiration.
By Kiva Fellows | KF19 | All Over the World
A Happy Holidays to the Kiva family everywhere! May your celebrations be filled with foods and flavor, smiling faces, natural beauty, light and memories… here are some gifts from around the world courtesy of the Kiva Fellows 19th class:
On the Twelve Days of Christmas my Kiva Fellow gave to me…
Watching Green Turtles hatch on a beach near Mafia Island in Tanzania was magical, and heartbreaking, because they looked so vulnerable. They’re tiny little things – no bigger than the palm of my hand – so the 15m of beach is an epic journey but they scramble forward determinedly despite the obstacles. I was thrilled to see this little guy heading out into the world!
Day 2: Two Washington War Memorials
Christina Reif | Kiva Zip (Washington D.C.) | United States
The Korean War Memorial (left): Nestled between juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea, 7ft tall statues of soldiers – wary of a suspected ambush – give the visitor a haunting feel of the a soldier’s reality.
The Vietnam Memorial (right): As I stood taking the picture I overheard the veteran say: there were 18 of us and only 9 came back. It was said matter of factly, a story told many times before, a piece of history that never loses its emotional impact.
Day 3: Three Colorado Microbrews
Rachel Davis | Kiva Zip (Denver) | United States
Here are three beers from three Colorado breweries, enjoy!
Day 4: Four Kuki Carolers
Eileen Flannigan | WSDS-Initiate | India
What are these Kuki’s most excited about this holiday? “The caroling bus!” This tradition only happens every two years because of the cost of renting the buses, which each family in the village (200+) contributes to all year. On Christmas Eve the buses tour all the neighboring villages as a symbol of peace, unity and good old fashion fun! At midnight, the elders go home and the youths visit each house in the village to “offer them a song”, which include tribal songs, classic Christmas songs and even Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe”.
When I asked them what they would like to say to Kiva lenders around the world, they joyfully said they wanted to “offer a song of thanksgiving”. Through giggles and jolly spirits, these Kiva borrowers sing “Joy to the World”, dressed in their holiday best, which is all weaved from their own hands. They graciously wrap me in these special threads and awake my heart with the “Christmas spirit”.
Day 5: Five Gorgeous Costa Rican Birds
Jane Imai | EDESA and FUNDECOCA | Costa Rica
What speaks of Costa Rica more than a bunch of beautiful, tropical birds? Costa Rica boasts a huge biodiversity when it comes to wildlife, including almost 900 species of birds. Here are some of ones I was able to see while I was here:
- Blue macaw (wild, La Fortuna)
- Scarlet macaws (wild, en route to Monteverde)
- Violet sabrewing (wildlife refuge, La Paz Waterfall Gardens)
- Yellow-naped parrots (free roaming pets known as Lola and Paco, San Jose)
- Keel-billed toucan (wildlife refuge, La Paz Waterfall Gardens)
Day 6: Six Delicious Dishes from Kyrgyzstan
Abhishesh Adhikari | Bai Tushum & Partners | Kyrgyzstan
- Lagman: Noodle dish with beef and pepper
- Mante: Dumplings filled with ground beef and onions
- Turkish Kebab
- Russian style roast duck with apples
- Plov: Fried rice mixed with meat and carrots
- Traditional Kyrgyz soup with meat and potatoes
Day 7: Seven Candles for Día de las Velitas
Rose Larsen | Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD) | Colombia
Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles) is a holiday in Colombia honoring the Immaculate Conception. Every year, on the 8th of December, at 3AM, Colombians light candles and put them in colorful lanterns outside their homes. This day is also the (unofficial) launch of the Christmas season.
Day 8: Eight Filipino Christmas Lights and Festive Faces
Keith Baillie | Roaming Mindanao | Philippines
Christmas preparations start early in the Philippines. Since November, carols are played on the radio and offices and homes have put up Christmas decorations. Groups of children roam around singing carols, hoping for a handout. Here are some pics of Dipolog’s tree lighting festival – with monsters for kids, sculpted and living angels, fireworks and popular bands.
Maayong Pasco! (Bisayan for Merry Christmas!)
Day 9: Nine Jordanian Herbs
Taline Khansa | Tamweelcom | Jordan
One of the most exciting and lively areas in Jordan is the downtown Amman “Balad” region. The streets are filled with a multitude of elements that stimulate the senses from perfumeries making custom concoctions to falafel hole-in-the-wall restaurants. My favorite places are the small shops selling bulk herbs and spices (for super cheap!), some of which I recognize and others I’ve never heard of. The merchants will often allow you to smell or taste the products and may offer some advice on use and preparation techniques.
The nine bulk herbs in this picture are: Two kinds of sage, Melissa, Rosemary, Artemisia, Rose, Guava Leaves, Marjoram, and Hibiscus… Happy Holidays from the Middle East!
Day 10: Ten Bags-a-Brimming With Honduran Coffee
Wesley Schrock | Roaming Fellow | Honduras
Kiva borrower Miguel, a coffee farmer from Trojes in Honduras, stands in front of a wet processing station. In the lower left-hand corner note his ten bags of pulped, fermented, and dried coffee beans ready for roasting.
Having spent close to three months in India, I must say I have not had one bad meal. The food is always flavorful and delicious. While working at Mahashakti, I have been fortunate to have lunch with the staff every day, prepared by the office caretaker, Radha Kanta, or just Rahda for short. Since many of the staff travel from branch to branch at a regular basis, they stay at the office overnight. Radha prepares meals for the traveling staff and me.
One day I learned to make a traditional Odisha dish – Simba Rai – from the following ingredients (pictured from left to right): Garlic, Turmeric, Radha in action, Ginger, Masala paste and powder, Green Chili, Potatoes, Green beans (Simba), Chili powder, Mustard seeds, Tomatoes, Shallots, and we’re ready to eat!
The smiling faces of twelve bright futures for the children of Kiva borrowers in Togo and Benin!
FROM THE KIVA FELLOWS!
- Dewi, pictured here in her grandmother’s shop, is studying accounting but wants to be a novelist. I say do BOTH!
Amazing things are happening at Yayasan Sosial Bina Sejahtera (YSBS,) a very new member to the Kiva partner family. First, I’ll give you a little background on the organization. YSBS has been around since 1976, and their main activity is assistance to educate young people at all levels and ages. They believe that education is a major key to lifting future generations out of poverty. Kiva is instrumental in allowing YSBS to expand their Vocational School loan program allowing students who most likely would have dropped out of school, to stay in and get better jobs after graduation.
The founder of YSBS, Father Charlie, is an older, but very energetic, Irish priest who has dedicated his life to working with the people of Cilicap for almost 40 years! Speaking with him is nothing short of inspirational, and seeing the fruits of his labour is truly humbling.
This program that YSBS wants to expand – with Kiva’s help – is Vocational School student loans. Father Charlie has data showing that currently 30,000 students finish Junior High, but only 14,000 of those finish Senior High in the local, Cilacap area. And sadly, it is the small fees for education that keep these 16,000 students out of a chance for a better paying job and a hand up out of poverty.
How it works is that a loan for one of these students is posted to the Kiva website and when funded the money gets sent to YSBS. But, YSBS has designed a system that allows the student to pay 0% interest. The full amount of 11,000,000 IDR (about $1,175 USD) goes to pay for 3 years of uniforms, tests, books and school fees in every form. This 11,000,000 IDR pays for school fees and the interest earned (right now secured at 8%!) goes to repaying the loan back for the student. The money is working for the student to assist them in paying back to full loan amount!
We are still ironing out all the intricacies of this system but at YSBS it is clear that the ultimate benefit to the student is paramount. Currently there are no loans fundraising for YSBS but stay tuned for more loans from this exciting new partner!
Jon Hiebert is a 3rd term Kiva fellow who has worked with Kiva in Mongolia, Uganda and now in Indonesia. YSBS is the current organization he is assisting, where the staff is so friendly and passionate about what they do. When he’s not working, you may see him on his quest to find the best Gado-Gado in town! (traditional Indonesian dish of steamed veggies and white bean hashbrowns smothered in peanut sauce.)
Alice Reeves – Timor-Leste
East Timor, Timor-Leste, Timor-Lorosaé…
Literal meaning is important here, and names are not chosen frivolously. Leste means ‘east’ in Portuguese. In the local language, Tetum, Lorosaé means ‘east’ – literally ‘sunrise’. For those of you familiar with Bahasa, the main language of Indonesia, the word Timor can be translated as, well, ‘east’.
Just keep heading towards the rising sun, one day you will eventually arrive at the shores of this rocky, dusty, mountainous island just off the northern coast of Australia, at the very tail end of the Indonesian archipelago. It’s definitely a long way east.
by Luan Nio | KF18 | Nicaragua
We think we are all well-travelled, educated and smart, with great interpersonal skills and able to handle difficult situations. But what does actually happen at a Kiva Fellow’s first day in the office?
Most of us have not worked in microfinance before, have never visited their destination country and sometimes don’t speak the local language as well as they might think.
Here are impressions from around the globe during our first day with our assigned Kiva field partner.
Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 | Ecuador
Welcome to this week’s Update from the Field! In the past few days we’ve had blog posts come to us from all corners of the world. From hearing about the prevailing Nomadic lifestyles of the people of Mongolia, to Kenya, where we journey along on an adventure-filled trip to meet a Kiva borrower in person. After touching down on Palestine and meeting a group of women that have successfully formed a cooperative, we are whisked away to the islands of Samoa where we are treated to two excellent videos illustrating life in this mysterious-to-some archipelago. From there, we come back to the Asian continent where we find two fellows located in two very culturally dissimilar countries, Ukraine and Indonesia, comparing and contrasting their experiences with borrower privacy. Hope you enjoy this week’s trip around the globe courtesy of this ever-audacious group of Kiva Fellows!
Heather Sullivan | KF17 | Indonesia
Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine
When not sampling local delicacies or fording swollen rivers to visit borrowers, Kiva Fellows occasionally find themselves stuck in the office, chatting on Skype and sharing experiences (both raucous and ruminative) from the field. In one recent conversation, the two of us, Heather and Chris, discovered that we were facing nearly opposite sets of problems surrounding the issue of borrower privacy. While Chris’s field partner in Ukraine was finding it hard to convince suspicious borrowers that sharing their photos and stories on Kiva would cause them no harm, Heather was struggling to convey to her Indonesian MFI’s clients that perhaps they shouldn’t be so nonchalant about how their information might be shared. What follows is a joint blog exploring some of the roots of those cultural differences—and their consequences for Kiva and its partner MFIs.
Adria Orr | KF17 | Samoa
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So how much is a video worth? I’m going to assume it’s at least a thousand, squared. Since Samoa is such a mystery for most people, I decided to put together a short video about the daily routine of SPBD’s loan officers for everyone to take a peek at this remote country.
Compiled by Philip Issa | KF17 | Palestine
We’ve all had these moments: Trying to impress a native speaker with our ability to speak their language, we compose an elegant sentence in our minds, open our mouths, and… proceed to swallow our feet whole. Indeed, we Kiva Fellows have had no shortage of these moments – we’ve twisted and tortured whole phrases so that they come out no better suited than to embarrass and offend.
So here are a few stories of us Fellows shattering our carefully constructed, professional identities with a spectacular “whoops!”
By Adria Orr | KF17 | Samoa
A huge part of choosing to move to another country, even temporarily, is leaving behind the comforts of home. There are several levels to this–the ease of familiar environs, the social security of friends and family, relatively cushy lifestyle (hot water, I’m thinking of you), and of course, sometimes, your physical security. When I think about the privilege I’ve enjoyed growing up in a developed country like the United States, the first things that come to mind are abundant food, clean water, and comfortable housing. Secondarily, I consider my political freedoms and my (relative) level of equality as a woman. Finally, although it is less overt (no one ever ran infomercials with a non-corrupt cop with big eyes and a sad face saying, ‘sponsor me!’), I encourage myself to not take for granted the basic level of security and lawfulness that I experience.
Most Kiva Fellows hail from countries where there is not much cause to worry about their safety. At least, you can have the expectation that if someone commits a crime and they are caught, they will be held accountable for it. Certainly, coming from the United States, I often watch international news and feel grateful that, though police and security forces are not perfect by any means, I do feel comfortable walking down the street knowing that I won’t get hit by an errant airstrike, almost certainly won’t get arbitrarily kidnapped and held for ransom, and can expect a general level of law enforcement in everyday life. (Although any increase in my TV consumption causes a similar increase in my conviction that I am about to be attacked in the street. Thanks, Law & Order.) (more…)
Compiled by Michael Slattery | KF17 | Togo
Despite the often upbeat tone of fellows’ posting on the blog, I’ll be the first to admit that the position entails some universal hardships. There is the occasional social isolation that leaves you Saturday night at home with a book and bottle of the local plonk, despite apparently leading a life of swinging exoticism and sun-drenched adventure. There’s is a lot of driving around, waiting, driving some more, and then getting told some tall tales by people who look at you like you’re definitely one of those foreign imbeciles that regularly swallows half-truths and thoroughly enjoys the taste.
I’ve also come home and spent a good hour picking black soot out of my ears and my nose, then showered and found the water around my feet an unhealthy, industrial smelling, swirl of charcoal. (I also associate the smell of burning plastic with Africa, most often first thing in the morning, as dutiful sweepers light fire to the last day’s fallen leaves and dropped plastic bags.)
Fortunately, there’s food. Blessed food. Balm to the solitary and bruised soul; and even if the full stomach isn’t spiritual salvation, it is a way to warm the heart, as many a romanticized grandmother may have advised uncomprehending grand-daughters. Kiva Fellow Chris Paci has pointed out that I can eat a lot of food in a given day, which is more or less true, so I thought to spread the love and identify who among my colleagues are the true foodies.
As ever, my thanks and recognition to the other fellows.
Michael Slattery (KF17) is serving as a Kiva Fellow with WAGES in Lomé, Togo. He’s pretty sure that one day he will have a coronary bypass and a large stock holding in an antacid producer. Find a borrower in Togo and lend today!
Jen Truong | KF17 | Cambodia
Poverty is terrible. It is unfair and merciless—I am certain many can agree to that. Often times people are born into it, other times poverty hits them out of nowhere, but the worst is when it oh so gradually creeps up into the lives of people absolutely undeserving of such a life. As my fellow KFer, Adria, mentioned in an earlier post regarding poverty, there are “different ways to be poor,” and after living in Phnom Penh for almost three months now, I can say that I agree to that statement completely. It is so obvious here that people are not only in poverty due to lack of wealth, but literally because of the lack of opportunity, of knowledge, and of information. Since arriving in Cambodia, my heart has ached to understand more deeply some of the direct reasons why so many people fall into such ruthless cycles of poverty here.
I had initially planned to write about the catalysts of poverty in Cambodia, however in writing this post, I realized that I cannot even pretend like I understand enough about poverty to talk about its catalysts—I found that it is just too exhausting to try to analyze and interpret the information I have gathered in this young and naïve little mind of mine. But, in my quest to understand the catalysts, I can definitely say that I have gained some interesting insight on the sacrifices that people living in poverty are required to make in order to survive here in Cambodia…and that is something I would love to share with you all.
Compiled by Kiyomi Beach | KF17 | Mexico
Whether shaking off the chill of winter, welcoming the rainy season, or experiencing any other climate change, the spring can definitely be a time to celebrate. Some countries celebrate big which can mean local business owners have a surge in income from selling items related to the festivities. Sales for new clothes, fabrics for costumes, candies, and specialty foods increase, which give some Kiva borrowers an extra reason to celebrate.
While we may all be familiar with some holidays or festivals, each culture celebrates what may seam like a familiar holiday differently. Some countries have celebrations that are uniquely their own, with the common threads being are family and fun. Lets see how a few of the fellows celebrated.
Heather Sullivan | KF17 | Indonesia
Weekends as a Kiva Fellow can be slow. How slow? So slow that after an afternoon of quality time with my Kindle, I recently found myself reading the “help wanted” section of a local newspaper.
The listings were almost all in Bahasa, and it is safe to say that I haven’t exactly mastered the language in a period of six weeks. Still, it was hard not to notice certain consistencies, and the few postings in English confirmed the pattern: Indonesian firms are unapologetic in specifying the sex and maximum age of prospective hires. Man or woman? Maximum age? Single or married? I even came across one design firm that included “not colour blind” for all of its postings. (Presumably this refers to visual acuity, as opposed to the firm’s hiring practices.)
By Adria Orr | KF17 | Samoa
Anyone coming to Samoa must have conflicting expectations in their mind–I know I did. After all, developing country or not, isn’t it a tropical island paradise? Upon receiving my placement from the Kiva Fellows program, an initial googling revealed tourism websites touting beautiful beaches, blue skies, and resorts. As I peered anxiously at the pictures, I thought to myself, “While other fellows are dodging motos in Southeast Asia or battling blackouts in Africa, I’m going to be living in…Hawaii?” I’ll admit a kernel of disappoinment–so much for my 4 months roughing it ‘in the field,’ I was going to be jet-skiing to work!
Adria Orr | KF 17 | Samoa
Where exactly is that? Isn’t that a cookie? Common responses to my placement in Samoa. Given that few, if any, of my friends and family were able to point to it on a map, I believe I have arrived off the beaten path. In the last two and a half weeks, I’ve received an immersive eduction on my MFI’s policies and practices, the nature of microfinance in Samoa, and of course, Samoa itself.
In case you didn’t know, Samoa is a tropical island nation, consisting of two main islands (‘Upolu and Savai’i) and about 200,000 people. Since even my ridiculously-well-traveled fellow KF17ers have peppered me with questions about the country so small it sometimes doesn’t make it on the map, I figured I would focus on sharing some of the special things about Samoa I’ve experienced that you wouldn’t quite get from the Wikipedia article.
Update From The Field: Client Visits In Bethlehem, A New Partnership In Cameroon + A Peek Into A Loan Officer’s World
Compiled by Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Bénin
KF17 fellows have now made their way into the field, which means new workplaces, new countries, and new cultures for us all. Even more importantly it means fascinating new blog posts from every corner of the globe for you. Check out this week’s posts and join fellows as they observe microfinance in action Palestine, share about a great new partner in Cameroon, visit a village bank in Peru, and adjust to life in Togo. Then continue reading to learn about a cricket-raising business in Indonesia, microsavings in Mozambique, Senegalese politics, an apartment search in Mongolia, and a loan officer training in the Philippines.
Jen Truong | KF17 | Cambodia
After experiencing my first day at work as a Kiva Fellow, I can tell you this much: One should always expect the unexpected! For me (and I feel incredibly fortunate for this), most of my unexpecteds so far have turned out to be only pleasant. Below, I have listed some details and thoughts of my first days being in Cambodia and at my MFI, MAXIMA, that I hope you will find at least entertaining.
1. Cambodia’s weather
Cambodia is humid! Granted, this is coming from someone who has lived in the Arizona desert pretty much her entire life, so I’m just being a bit more dramatic than I should be. Thankfully, my one-room apartment that I am renting from a family has air conditioning, which has helped the adjustment go much more smoothly. I am sweating less and less buckets as the days progress, and I’ve noticed that if I gradually wean myself off of the cool air, I will soon no longer need it at all! It doesn’t sound like something to be that proud of, but it’s funny how easily we take something like air conditioning for granted. Most people I’ve talked to don’t use or have air conditioning in their homes at all.
It would be a lie if I told you that I haven’t thought about being back home at all. I miss it. I miss conveniently knowing where everything is and who I’m going to see everyday. But, it is also for that reason that I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be in Cambodia. Each day I’ve seen something new–made new friend. I really can’t complain about that.
3. Street children
It is a known problem in Cambodia. Many people discourage giving money to these children as it only perpetuates the situation and puts them at even higher risk of getting into worse things in the future. Instead, I’ve been searching for local NGOs that aim to help protect street children and youth. I had dinner last night at Friends, the Restaurant (called Mith Samlanh in Cambodian). Friends is a training restaurant run by former street youth and their teachers. The food is delicious (a fusion of American and Cambodian cuisine) and the people are beyond hospitable here. (more…)
Compiled by Laurie Young, KF16, Indonesia
I know! We can’t believe it either! Our Kiva Fellowships, as the 16th class, have come to an end. So what’s in store for us once we return to our homes? Or perhaps, stay in the field for another fellowship? Read on for the next chapter in the lives of some of the 16th Class of Kiva Fellows Alumni.
Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF16 Peru
The sixteenth class of Kiva Fellows has all but left the field- but we’re by no means done talking about our experiences. We’ve collectively spent 422 weeks in the field (just over 8 years!) and worked an estimated 16,650 hours at Kiva field partners around the world. Needless to say, we’ve got a lot of opinions about how to use this time wisely.
Now, we’re no experts in living or working abroad (though we sure do like it), but we have some nuggets of wisdom to offer up for those of you transitioning into a life abroad or beginning your next Kiva Fellowship. Stick by these tips, and you can’t go wrong. (And for more hints and tips, check out 33 Tips from Kiva Fellows (written November 2009) or 45 More Tips from Kiva Fellows in South America.) Enjoy!
Compiled by Jim Burke, KF16, Nicaragua
This week’s Fellows Blog focuses on adaptability: Adapting microinsurance to poor households in Indonesia, an MFI in Turkey adapts to the needs of women entrepreneurs, a multifaceted borrower in Nepal adapts to market pressures, and a Kiva Fellow adapts to changing expectations. In a continuation of The Stuff Kiva Fellows Like series we hear how different fellows have adapted to their lives abroad by ‘crashing parties’ and ‘going to the Bazaar’. We hear about how practitioners are adapting finance and microinsurance products to their borrowers. Equally nimble we hear from a few borrowers and how they have expertly adapted to market pressures and changing circumstance. Microfinance is a dynamic industry by nature and like DJ or Binu or Maya Enterprise for Micro Finance, ensuring success means staying flexible and welcoming new opportunities born out of challenges. (more…)
Compiled by Jim Burke, KF16, Nicaragua
We are Kiva Fellows. This is the stuff we like. Here is an insider (often critical, or satirical but always true!) view of what it means to be a Kiva Fellow and promote access to financial services around the world. From party crashing to bazaars to street food, these are the things we like and thrive on. Check out Stuff Kiva Fellows Like (SKFL) #1-9!
#10 Street Food
Mariela Cedeño, KF16, Cochabamba, Bolivia
I’m not really sure why, but there is something inherently appealing to a Kiva Fellow’s being about food that is prepared, cooked, and sold on the streets. Perhaps it’s the dubiously hygienic food preparation, the alternative cooking apparatus used to bring food to fire, or it’s ready availability and our relative laziness…wait, no, it’s actually our need to literally ‘taste’ the local culture. In our fits of street food deliriousness we are open and ready to taste all that our surroundings have to offer, however, we often find that the local fare may not quietly find a home in our stomachs. Thankfully, before leaving to our local assignments, our travel nurses reminded us that in times of intestinal woe, Cipro and other like antibiotics will be our best friend. They sometimes are, but because we are well versed in the dangers of overusing antibiotics and are haunted by nightmares of creating giant super bacteria that start kidnapping local women and children, we use them sparingly and wisely. (more…)
Questions from the Field: Why Do We Lend, What’s a Kiva Fellowship + How does Microfinance Support Green & Agricultural Development?
Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF16, Peru
Last week’s stories from the field elucidate readers on questions far and wide, and pose a few questions of their own: what is a Wandering Kiva Fellow, and is a Kiva Fellowship right for you? How can microloans support a green or agriculturally sustainable economy? In a country bouncing back from a civil war, how can international aid and microfinance help (or hurt)? What social programs are our partners supporting across the world, and how can microfinance support HIV-postive microborrowers? And finally, a question we put to you lenders: How do You Lend?
Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda
This week on the Kiva fellows blog, start out by learning about three new microfinance products – microinsurance in Indonesia, higher education loans in the Philippines and green and water loans in Kenya. Continue on to Nepal to admire the handiwork of artisan borrowers. Make your way to Ecuador to find out more about the risk of indebtedness. Share the fellows’ personal experiences with the recent elections in Nicaragua and rush hour traffic in Uganda. Finish by taking a critical look at transparency in microfinance and Kiva’s responsibility with regards to transparency.