Posts filed under ‘Jordan’

Kiva One: Faces that Impacted the Lives of Kiva Fellows

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.

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31 January 2013 at 08:00

Twelve Days of Christmas from Kiva Fellows

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…

Day 1: A Turtle Heading Out to Sea!
Marion Walls | Tujijenge and Barefoot Power | Tanzania

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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

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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

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Here are three beers from three Colorado breweries, enjoy!

Day 4: Four Kuki Carolers
Eileen Flannigan | WSDS-Initiate | India

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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

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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

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  1. Lagman: Noodle dish with beef and pepper
  2. Mante: Dumplings filled with ground beef and onions
  3. Turkish Kebab
  4. Russian style roast duck with apples
  5. Plov: Fried rice mixed with meat and carrots
  6. Traditional Kyrgyz soup with meat and potatoes

Day 7: Seven Candles for Día de las Velitas
Rose Larsen | Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD) | Colombia

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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.

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Day 8: Eight Filipino Christmas Lights and Festive Faces
Keith Baillie | Roaming Mindanao | Philippines

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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

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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

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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.

Day 11: Eleven Indian Ingredients and Spices
Irene Fung | People’s Forum and Mahashakti Foundation | India

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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!

Day 12: Twelve Bright African Futures
Holly Sarkissian | Alidé in Benin and WAGES in Togo

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The smiling faces of twelve bright futures for the children of Kiva borrowers in Togo and Benin!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS

FROM THE KIVA FELLOWS!

20 December 2012 at 08:00

Why Kiva Lenders Should Fund Consumer Microloans in Jordan

This week, I met a Jordanian widow who is supporting four children and her elderly mother on less than 200 JD ($283) per month. Her income comes from her deceased spouse’s pension. She is applying for a microloan to make ends meet. Do you think this non-entrepreuneur should be granted a microloan?

While you and I may be able to automatically reach for a credit card or withdraw money from a savings account in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses, such luxuries are not available for the majority of the low-income population in Jordan. What is the solution, then, for marginalized communities?

One of the many low-income neighborhoods in Jordan

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29 November 2012 at 07:00 2 comments

Jordanian Hospitality and Secrets to the Perfect Cup of Tea

Taline Khansa | KF19 | Jordan

Jordan has been my home for the past five weeks, and in this short time I’ve felt more than welcomed by newly gained friends, Tamweelcom’s staff, borrowers, and strangers alike. Every day holds its share of new faces and places, introducing me to people from diverse professional and socio-economic backgrounds. The one common factor among all is an innate sense of hospitality that always leaves me loving and appreciating the people of Jordan more and more.

Bedouin Tent

Bedouin Tent along the highway connecting Amman to the south of Jordan

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5 November 2012 at 07:00

Conversations in a Taxicab

Taline Khansa | KF19 | Jordan

Since arriving in Jordan last Tuesday night for the start of my Kiva Fellowship, I’ve ridden at least a dozen taxicabs which are prominent in Amman’s streets. The daily commute has sparked some very interesting conversations with the drivers who have given me a glimpse into the peoples’ challenges and the country’s current affairs. A 20 minute cab ride to work costs approximately 3 Jordanian Dinars ($4.25 USD) and provides my morning dose of news and chitchat.

Taxi driver in Jorda

Taxi driver in Jordan

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4 October 2012 at 07:00 1 comment

Ramadan Kareem from the Middle East!

By Amy Kyleen Lute – KF15, Jordan

Today, August 1st, is the first day of Ramadan! For the next month, Muslims across the world will be fasting – letting nothing pass through their lips – from sunrise to sunset.  Though I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the Arab world, this is my first experience of Ramadan living in a Muslim country.

Ramadan, for people here, means many things.  For some it is a welcomed change of routine, more time with family and an opportunity to be continually reminded of their dependence on God. For most it is not an option. (It is actually illegal – though not thoroughly enforced – for shops to allow patrons to eat publicly during the day.) I’m not sure there is anything more foreign to Westerners accustomed to secular society than an entire population – the nerds, the bros, the liberals, the loyalists, the wealthy, the poor, the players, the educated, the spiritually indifferent – to participate in a religious custom; for religious adherence to be the norm. Though for some participants, I suspect, it doesn’t necessarily have as much of a religious impetus as we might assume given our secular and cultural bias. Here, actively participating in Ramadan may not engender theological discussions or denote particular piety, it may come out of a simpler, more community-oriented mindset that, as Muslims, during Ramadan, this is how we act.

For Kiva borrowers, life is altered in similar ways as the rest of the society.  Their loan repayments are still due, though many of their businesses are closed or, more likely, operate on restricted hours – beginning later in the day and closing earlier in the afternoon with some, depending on the type of business, reopening late into the night to try to capture some additional action surrounding iftar, the breaking of the fast after sundown.  Profits for small businesses and shops vary: for some business suffers from the decrease in out-of-home activities and for others Ramadan is a highly profitable month due to the nightly celebrations of family and food. During my work with KIEDF, an Israeli microfinance institution serving mostly Arab, Muslim clients, they explained that many borrowers will make two payments the month before Ramadan so they don’t have to pay during the Holy Month. It is also normal for microfinance institutions to be more lenient about early and late payments this month. For clients of Tamweelcom, another Kiva Field Partner in Jordan, clients have additional incentive to pursue good standing with their MFI. As part of their social mission, nearly 170 high-achieving clients were selected to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan with an all-expenses-paid trip to do Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca similar to Hajj except that it can be done at any point throughout the year.

For me, besides making it more difficult to find a taxi and virtually impossible to eat out or in public during the day, Ramadan is going to be a fascinating window into the lives of a few of the hundreds of Muslim Kiva borrowers in Jordan. I have many field visits scheduled in these next couple of weeks, which I anticipate will be somewhat hindered but simultaneously enhanced by customs of the Holy Month. My experience and understanding of the Jordanian people, Kiva borrowers and friends who are partaking in this dramatic routine-altering tradition wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t participate – even if only for a day – in solidarity with my current community. Thus far I have only been refraining – not really by choice – from things that are hard to open and difficult to eat as I recently fractured both of my wrists and now have huge casts on both arms limiting my digital mobility! I suspect this new intention, while potentially including similar frustrations, will shift my ever-changing perspective. I am excited to separate and combine sacrifice with celebration in communion with so many others doing the same.

1 August 2011 at 10:11 2 comments

Updates from the Field: Mosquito Nets, Rock Climbing + Clearing the Air

Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF15, Ecuador

The former Prosecutor's office, burnt out in April 2010's political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan

Kiva’s Field Partners are spread far and wide, from Nicaragua to Nepal, Afghanistan to America. As we lend $25 to a borrower in a distant land, we try to imagine what his or her life is like. This is one of Kiva’s greatest successes, in fact: it gives us a glimpse into the life of another person in a country we’re unfamiliar with. But no amount of transparency on the Kiva website, nor pouring over newspapers or guidebooks, can ever really illustrate the human condition in a foreign country. Misinterpretations, factual inaccuracies, and complete delusions abound. And we Fellows are just as hapless of victims as anyone else. This week in the field three Fellows clear up some common misconceptions and share some real life insights on the day-to-day in an oft-misrepresented country or culture.

Kyrgyzstan – Five Reasons Why I Am Not As Brave As You Might Think
Country: Kyrgyzstan / Fellow: Miranda Phua (KF15)

From talking dogs to civic engagement, Miranda walks us through life in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan- and it’s not what the travel websites have led us to believe.

Hijabs Included: Strong Women Working for Microfinance in Jordan
Country: Jordan / Fellow: Amy Kyleen Lute (KF15)
Amy Kyleen introduces us to two of the many strong women in Jordan and shows us that Hijabs or no, women are fending for themselves just fine.

Mosquito Nets: Subjective Risk.
Country: Sierra Leone / Fellow: Eric Rindal (KF15)
Eric “lifts his mosquito net” and realizes that life- and poverty- in Sierra Leone is much more than living with hunger.

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Updates from the past month:
Instability, Trust, + A New Home
Unsung Heroes, Community Alliances + and Mission Statements Made Reality
Personal Connections, Supply and Demand + A Culinary Excursion
Farewells, Mistaken Identities + Micro-Microfinance
Earth Day, Celebrations + Exceeding Expectations 


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Plus more pictures from the past week:

Kyrgyzstan (Miranda Phau)

Sierra Leone (Eric Rindal)

Jordan (Amy Kyleen Lute)

13 June 2011 at 04:00 8 comments

Hijabs Included: Strong Women Working for Microfinance in Jordan

By Amy Kyleen Lute – KF15, Jordan

“I just don’t like how they treat women over there,” said the large man who sat next to me on the airplane on my return home after Kiva Fellows training in San Francisco and before leaving for my field placement in Amman, Jordan.  His sentiment is a common one expressed by Americans when speaking about the Middle East. Sometimes I nod and don’t get into it, other times I say something along the lines of, “That hasn’t been my experience but from talking to other women who have spent time in the Middle East, it really differs by person.”

Although there are certainly issues, as there are in the United States and many parts of the world, surrounding women and their place in country, companies, relationships, and family, I prefer to tell stories that provide an alternate perspective to the continuous media coverage of Arab, and more specifically Muslim, women’s oppression and abuse in the region.

Every Sunday through Thursday (the regular work week in the Arab world since Friday is the celebrated holy day), I come to work in a taxi to the office of National Microfinance Bank, a Kiva Field Partner in Jordan, located on the outskirts of Amman. After I walk in and greet the receptionist – “Sabah al khair” – I go to my desk situated in a room with two other women, Maha and Tamara.

Maha is responsible for Kiva procedures at the bank: making sure the loan officers give her appropriate, clear pictures and truthful, interesting information about the clients that are to be posted in Kiva’s website (to view the products of her labor go to:http://www.kiva.org/lend?partner_id=185). She also is in charge of the bank’s call center, fielding comments from clients all over the country.  Efficient and gleeful, she is great at what she does.  (Keep in mind I am slightly biased; her family had me over for “wara’ dual’i” – stuffed grape leaves – and they were amazing!)

If you a veteran Kiva lender, you may have stumbled across (as my mom and I did when deciding who to lend to for her Mother’s Day present, a Kiva gift certificate:http://www.kiva.org/gifts) a Kiva borrower, usually a woman, who has chosen not to be pictured citing cultural preferences. Maha and I have been trying to think of other ways to connect the women borrowers to the Kiva community. After I suggested a potential sound bite, she laughed and said, “The loan officers will think I am crazy!” Explaining in more detail she told me these women usually fall into different categories. Some just don’t like to have their picture taken (maybe they haven’t gone to the salon recently), some don’t want to have it taken for religious reasons and some women’s families do not agree with them having their pictures taken. Maha on the other hand, “loves getting her picture taken,” she says, verified by her Facebook, glamour shot.

The other woman I share the office with is Tamara. Having gone to the US for high school and university, Tamara knows quite well the ways of the West. In charge of marketing for the bank, she was quiet my few days here until we went to the field with a few other employees earlier this week. On our way – imagine 5 people stuffed in a car driving all around Jordan to branch offices in Mufraq and Irbid eating falafel sandwiches – Tamara almost immediately got into a discussion with one of the men about the situation of women in Jordan, their choice to veil, and their authority in relationships.  As I frantically tried to keep up with the Arabic, especially given the sensitive subject matter, she occasionally threw me a phrase or sentence in English to summarize. Though the two were disagreeing strongly with each other, Tamara felt no need to be act subdued or cover her opinions. Her ability to articulate and deliver her ideas to, at least one, non-receptive audience member (The other man in the car had very different beliefs than the one who was arguing with her) was impressive. That strength and enthusiasm only continued to grow in my eyes throughout the day as she took me aside during one of the meetings with the branch managers to discuss my thoughts on employee services, branding and marketing strategies, and a new idea she has to create an online market for goods made by NMB clients.  Clearly very invested and talented, she contributes in her honesty and skill to the workings and success of the bank.

As just two examples (of, admittedly, not the most average Jordanian women), it is very clear to me in my limited time spent at NMB that women are valued in their work and their persons. Whether it is in briefing a male branch manager of a conservative area on a new program the bank is implemented and dealing with his discontent surrounding the new policy, or in maintaining relationships with the rest of the office staff including all levels of management and service, these women have skill and creativity, responsibility and dedication.  They are valued for their contributions and personalities in this professional community.

As I was setting up my meeting with the Risk Manager of the bank for Sunday morning to discuss progress and future plans, he looked at Maha and me and said, “Our first priority is to make sure Maha is happy. This is the most important thing.” The three of us laughed and he left with a smile on his face.

Maha, Tamara and I went to the climbing gym this weekend. Talk about strong!

Making Our Way Up the Wall!

For more information on National Microfinance Bank please visit:http://www.kiva.org/partners/185.

8 June 2011 at 01:12 4 comments

Update from the Field: Earth Day, Celebrations + Exceeding Expectations

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky

Kiva Fellows observed Earth Day by sharing projects initiated by their partner microfinance institutions and host countries and by celebrating Kiva.org’s first batch of “Green Loans”. The upbeat mood also extended to anniversary parties at MFIs in Jordan and Armenia, enthusiastic endorsements to travel to Colombia, and reporting on a great opportunity for Kiva clients in Mongolia. Fellows also visited with borrowers in the Philippines, South Africa, and Armenia, and took us on a typical commute in Mexico City. All in all, a very busy week as members of KF14 wind down their time in the field.

Continue Reading 25 April 2011 at 02:45 4 comments


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