Jan 7, 2009 TG Togo

Three years ago, the streets I drive on today in downtown Lomé were ablaze with burning tires and barricades, as civilians protested the contested results of the presidential election. Gnassingbé Eyadéma, the longest ruling leader in Africa (second in the world only to Fidel Castro) had died on February 5, 2005. Two months later, an election pronounced his son, Faure Gnassingbé, the winner, defeating an opposition coalition of six parties.

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Jan 7, 2009 KH Cambodia

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve explained the concept behind Kiva to family, friends, and people I’ve met along the way, but each time my explanation is slightly different.

This is because Kiva is really quite difficult to explain. It incorporates frightfully odd concepts such as microfinance, acronyms such as MFIs, faux acronyms (“what does K.I.V.A. stand for anyhow?”), frequently confused verbs “lend” and “borrow”, crossovers between banking and charity, international flows of money, interest and yet no...

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Jan 4, 2009 AZ Azerbaijan

Why is it that when you’re just starting a job, you always introduce yourself to the CEO with spinach in your teeth, or rip your pants pocket, or spill toner on your shirt?

My finest hour was when I was starting on the copy desk at a newspaper, trying to make a good impression as a head-down, able worker, and the copy chief gave me a big story. I had my take-out dinner on my desk. As I stared intently at the screen, trying to be the model of a journalist who’s so totally engrossed in the task at hand he can’t even be bothered to look at his food, I gave my Orangina...

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Dec 26, 2008 KH Cambodia

It is the last day at HKL today and I’m heading back to my country-Japan. So I am reviewing what I did in Cambodia. Maybe my contribution is a little different from other fellows due to different background-I’m from Asia.

The reason I became Kiva fellow is to learn Kiva and micro finance and then try to localize Kiva since language barrier is very high for Japanese people unfortunately. Many of my friends don’t loan even if they are interested in Kiva.

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Dec 23, 2008 BJ Benin

Abozu with Abby and I of "Why I can't give Abozu my Camera" blog fame

I spent the weekend in Lomé, Togo with Abby Gray, another Kiva fellow at WAGES. Wages is basically like Alide in a few years: larger, and with a deeper relationship with Kiva. To get to Togo, I had to cross the border from Benin to Togo alone, which was just a little bit more harrowing and stressful than was necessary between two small, relatively stable countries. I decided to go to Togo on...

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Dec 22, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

It’s 5am and the electricity has just come back on here in my Khujand apartment. I know because the sheet metal of the ‘70’s era space heater plugged into the wall has started to creak and crack as it warms. I’m not typically up at this hour but it’s D-day – my departure – and I’m anxious to get started on the 3 day, 5 country journey back home. Today Tajikistan to Uzbekistan, tomorrow Uzbekistan to Moscow to Amsterdam, and finally Amsterdam to… America.

I’ve grown accustomed now to calling my homeland, ‘America.’ Early on here I didn’t know what...

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Dec 21, 2008 PE Peru

After finishing my Kiva fellowship with EDAPROSPO last week, I moved out of Lima and into the province of Junín in the sierras of Peru.  My time with Microfinanzas PRISMA is quite short and so I’ve engaged in a whirlwind tour of meeting entrepreneurs, collecting their stories, and posting journal updates.  As the PRISMA office in Tarma services the entire northern half of Junín province, the clients are very spread out and thus long hours are a given.  The following video is a snapshot of my day on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008.  I had to split it into two parts because the upload...

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Dec 20, 2008 HN Honduras

Christmas in Honduras sunny and delicious. Christmas parties are everywhere, and come with very royally dressed women and scantily dressed girls. Office beauty pageants. The days are a warm 80 degrees, toasty not humid. I’m eating Tres Leches cake like my heart is made of iron, not soft, susceptible tissue.

I can’t get enough of the Christmas trees. Like everything here, color is supreme.

Christmas Tree in Prisma's Office

Don’t forget that they don’t grow...

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Dec 18, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

I had been planning for today’s lasagna lunch since the second week of my fellowship when one my colleagues asked if I could make his favorite dish from the U.S. How could I say no? This man had picked me up at the border, arranged my housing, and even helped me secure a SIM card and cell phone, among countless of other tasks. Lasagna was the least I could do, right? Right? In the end the lasagna required more than 10 trips to various stores and the efforts of approximately 12 people, in three countries.

When I...

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Dec 18, 2008

Today is my last day in Bosnia, the first of my Kiva placements.

I have committed a year to volunteering with Kiva, and I initially hoped to write a book about the experience.  Last August, I imagined myself sitting on a street corner in Kenya, smoking cheap cigarettes.  Poor children would laugh in the distance and I would sigh, reflectively, finally understanding the meaning of it all.  I would walk down the street with a child on my back, high-fiving locals and getting a thumbs-up sign from the local nurse.  My eyes would turn that perspicacious blue, seen only in the eyes of...

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