Posts tagged ‘Alexis Ditkowsky’

Update from the Field: Farewells, Mistaken Identities + Micro-Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

We’ve officially hit the point in the Kiva Fellows cycle where the current batch says goodbye just as the latest group is getting their bearings at Kiva HQ. Fortunately, there are a number of posts this week to help us through the transition and cheer us up. If you’re interested in a comprehensive image gallery of the hot designs for share taxis in Rwanda, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also got stories about micro-micro-businesses in Sierra Leone, visiting research fellows in West Timor, and the intersection of medicine and microfinance in Bolivia. Plus, take long trips to the field in Armenia and Peru, and catch up on the impact of microloans in South Africa.

Sierra Leone Poda-Poda

Continue Reading 2 May 2011 at 00:38 4 comments

Sala Kahle: Saying Goodbye to KwaZulu-Natal

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Like most Fellows from Kiva’s 14th class, I am busily tying up the loose ends of my Fellowship. As much as I enjoyed my trips to the rural areas surrounding Richards Bay (although I wasn’t a huge fan of Richards Bay itself), I can’t say that I mind my current locale: the beach at Kommetjie, about an hour south of Cape Town. My Fellowship required a sustained burst of manic energy and proved to be an extraordinary mixed bag that was both incredibly challenging and rewarding. While I’m ready for a little R&R, I wouldn’t take back any part of the past three months, except perhaps for the multitude of yappy dogs that started barking at 5:30am each morning and harassed me on all of my walks. I definitely could have done without them!

Continue Reading 1 May 2011 at 12:20 5 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

Update from the Field: Trash, Delicious Treats + Community Outreach

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Let’s take a moment to vicariously consume baked goods in Colombia, coffee in Nicaragua, tomatoes in Ukraine, and a traditional meal in Nepal. Once you’re sated, you can read about the dismal state of trash collection in Guatemala, the lives of borrowers in Bolivia, what “mobile” savings really means in Indonesia, and how Kiva’s partner MFIs all around the world are providing life-enhancing services and engaging with the community in meaningful ways.

Continue Reading 18 April 2011 at 00:40 4 comments

Update from the Field: Cute Pigs, New Toilets + Everything is Relative

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

It’s hard to believe but the current batch of Kiva Fellows has been in the field for over two months and most of us have only a few weeks left to go. We’re getting swept up in completing deliverables, making the most of our final month in country, and starting to plot our lives after Kiva. (Travel plans = fun. Applying for “real” jobs = less fun.) Fortunately, starting May 7, a brand new assortment of Fellows will be coming your way and a few KF14 veterans will be sticking around to show them the ropes. So stay tuned for more trips to the field, insights into local culture, contemplations about next steps, and stories of microfinance in action.

Continue Reading 11 April 2011 at 00:45 6 comments

Update from the Field: April Fools, Terrible Coffee + Getting Attached

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

We hope you enjoyed our April Fools post on Friday! While we were entertaining ourselves pulling it all together, we also found the time to attend to some serious matters: coffee in Colombia is no joke (in a bad way), some borrowers are easier to locate than others, and oftentimes Fellows must say goodbye to people and places before they’re ready to. We also learned about the “No Pago” movement in Nicaragua, the elections in Peru, what daily life is like for a Fellow in Bolivia, and how to sensibly and respectfully collect past-due payments in Ghana. Somehow there was even time to host a previous Fellow and a documentary film student in Colombia and to visit borrowers, eat chocolate, and stop for the view in Armenia.

Continue Reading 4 April 2011 at 00:46 8 comments

Special Update from the Field: Beaches, Safaris + Cambodian Glamour Shots

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Kiva Fellows are nothing if not creative. We’ve gone to elaborate lengths to convince you that it can be hard to visit borrowers and that when we’re not trekking for miles, we’re doing elaborate calculations or dealing with databases and reporting. In truth, it’s all a front for an extended holiday from our regular lives. You thought our recent Carnival coverage represented a change of pace? Think again!

Continue Reading 1 April 2011 at 00:13 7 comments

Update from the Field: Social Quirks, Justin Bieber + Lots of Carbs

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

While it may have been a slower “official” news week than usual, I can assure you that the Fellows are keeping busy. One Fellow spent hours searching fruitlessly for borrowers in the jungle, another has been suffering from serious gastrointestinal issues (aren’t you glad he didn’t post about that?), and the rest of us have been plotting something very special for the end of the week. In the meantime, you can catch up on social quirks in Rwanda, transportation in West Timor, the importance of corn in Guatemala, and the latest from Mongolia all while taking a look at photos from South Africa. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 28 March 2011 at 03:58 6 comments

Photos from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Procuring your own transportation as a Kiva Fellow can be expensive, particularly when petrol hovers around $5/gallon. But while I miss the adventure of crowded taxis and mini-buses, I can go to the field on very short notice and have enough energy at the end of the day to update this very blog. So here’s the latest collection of photos from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, taken earlier today. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 23 March 2011 at 10:43 7 comments

Update from the Field: Fun Facts, Field Visits + Back to Basics

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

For many Fellows, this week was about getting back to basics: the borrowers. In between fun facts about Kiva Fellowships, doing database detective work, and reflecting on the internal dynamics of Kiva’s partner microfinance institutions, Fellows found themselves in the field again and again, much to their delight and often to the delight of borrowers. From Latin America to Africa to the Caucasus to Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe, meet Kiva clients, learn about their businesses, and check out all of the great photos.

Continue Reading 21 March 2011 at 01:53 9 comments

Database Detective: South Africa Edition

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

I realize your interest may be waning based on the title alone but I encourage you to keep reading because not everything a Kiva Fellow does is as wild and crazy and emotionally rewarding as a borrower visit. But, as a Kiva Fellow, I aim to please so I’ve also included pictures from a recent trip to the field at the end of this post. Now there’s something for everyone – for those of you who want to geek out a little, I’ve got you covered, and for everyone else who just wants to be transported to South Africa for a minute in the middle of the workday, you’re taken care of, too.

Continue Reading 15 March 2011 at 05:36 9 comments

Update from the Field: Carnival, Collaboration + Cheese-Making

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

This past week was all about collaboration: Fellows coordinating across continents to profile entrepreneurs and organizations who believe International Women’s Day should be every day and community members coming together to celebrate Carnival in all of its elaborate glory. We learned about public health in Peru, making cheese and cigars in Nicaragua, the impact of climate change in Bolivia, and the challenges faced by a microcredit saleswoman in Guatemala. Life as a Kiva Fellow is busy as always!

Continue Reading 14 March 2011 at 00:45 8 comments

Update from the Field: Man’s Day, Singing Fellows + Learning How to Count

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

The Fellows will be covering International Women’s Day later this week but let’s take a moment to acknowledge its lesser-known cousin in Kyrgyzstan, “Man’s Day”. And while you’re appreciating culture and history in far-off places, take a trip to Peru and West Timor through photos, visit borrowers in Uganda and Rwanda through video, learn a little something about communicating in South Africa, and catch up on the latest from Liberia, Ghana, and Mexico (home to the “Singing Fellow”).

Continue Reading 7 March 2011 at 00:16 7 comments

The Meaning of “Now” in South Africa

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

In addition to the popular phrases “howzit?” (short for “how’s it going?”), “pleasure” (in place of “you’re welcome”), and “ach, shame” (which can emphasize just about anything from appreciation for an adorably cute dog to disappointment over your cricket team losing to acting as a general conversation filler), you’ll hear a lot of “just now” while traveling or living in South Africa.

Continue Reading 1 March 2011 at 10:21 81 comments

Update from the Field: Videos, Epic Commutes + Going Beyond Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Another week, another incredible range of dispatches from around the world. Several Fellows told their stories with video and pictures while others took time to reflect on the state of microfinance as a global industry and in their respective countries. And what would a week in the field be without getting to know a few borrowers? Plus, scroll to the end of the post for pictures you may have missed the first time around.

Continue Reading 28 February 2011 at 00:38 10 comments

Last Week in the Field: “Christmas”, Trekking, Adversity + Good Company

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Members of the 14th class of Kiva Fellows have officially hit their stride. While we never know where the next dispatch will come from or what interesting topics the Fellows will cover next, we always know we’ll be transported, entertained, and edified. This past week, topics included “Christmas”, trekking to a remote village (with video!), handling adversity (including a serious car accident and stolen electronics), and enjoying the company of loan officers, borrowers, and community members. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 21 February 2011 at 02:17 12 comments

Next Steps for Kiva’s Partner in South Africa

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

You may or may not have noticed that posts from South Africa have been on the non-specific end of the spectrum. This is because Kiva’s first partner in South Africa, Women’s Development Businesses (WDB), is currently in a “pilot” stage. Both Kiva and WDB are figuring out the best processes and procedures for working together so that WDB can keep doing what it does best and Kiva and Kiva’s users can have the reporting they crave.

If you were eagerly awaiting lots of info from South Africa, this is the post for you! And if you just want to see happy pictures of loan officers and clients, all you have to do is scroll to the bottom of the page.

Continue Reading 17 February 2011 at 04:18 13 comments

First Borrower Visit (Take 350+)

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Readers of the Kiva Fellows Blog may be familiar with this outline:
- New Fellow arrives at placement
- Fellow goes on first borrower visit which involves bumpy roads and/or novel forms of transportation, questionable directions, meeting borrowers, and some unexpected form of hijinx
- Fellow returns home after a long day in the field both exhausted and exhilarated

Continue Reading 14 February 2011 at 05:37 17 comments

A Hand-Delivered Kiva Fellow

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

As many a Kiva Fellow will tell you, sometimes things just seem to work out and it makes up for all the times they don’t.

Case in point: I showed up for my first day at Women’s Development Businesses with mosquito bites all over my face, including one on my eyelid that made me look like I was suffering from some sort of paralysis. I didn’t have the correct adapter for my computer charger even though I bought it in South Africa. And I ran out of money on my pay-as-you-go 3G modem at noon so no Internet for the rest of the day.

Continue Reading 3 February 2011 at 04:48 15 comments


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