Nested in an awkward applause of jubilation upon our arrival to Pakistan, I abandon the safety of the aircraft thick with the aroma of curry, for a welcome into a city veiled under the weight of yet another blackout.
Despite my 2 AM arrival, I am received with large smiles and a plate full of mouth-watering nihari, a local breakfast delicacy.
Pakistan, a country known for its blatant contradictions – political and cultural, is an exciting place to arrive as a Kiva Fellow.
Within a few hours of my arrival the Pakistani public is taking to the streets, protesting the daily 18 hour power outages. Simultaneously, politicians debate in the permanently air-conditioned parliament whether a controversial ex-minister, also known as Raja Rental, should join the current president, Mr. Ten Percent, as the new Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, a Kiva Fellow moves into the heart of Pakistan, Lahore.
Legend has it that the city of Lahore was once aptly known as Lavapuri, or the city of Lava. Lahore currently offers scorching temperatures of up to 53 °C degrees (127 °F for my American friends), with the destructive monsoon rains only a fortnight away. With blackouts every alternate hour, modern solutions include soaking bed sheets in water, and mummifying oneself into a cool state of slumber.
As I transport myself through the majestic streets of the Raj, I can’t help but look at the children playing in the canal with envy, as they cannonball their way through the summer, without a care in the world. I wonder how much of an uproar it would cause if I too, would jump out of my car, and cannonball amongst these kindred spirits under the protective shade of the poplar trees, only then scamper off to my MFI for my first day of work.
Asasah, Kiva’s oldest partner in Pakistan, has never had a Kiva fellow due to issues of security. With an impressive portfolio of above 25,500 entrepreneurs supported with over $5.5 million loans funded through Kiva, I find myself eager to meet the ones who made this happen.
I wonder what my first day will be like.