Nov 16, 2007 KH Cambodia

Phnom Penh 

(Had a little trouble getting my account activated.  This post is from Oct. 18th.)  We now have two days of field visits under our belts.  The long-awaited quest to gather information has yielded notepad pages full of facts.  There is no question we’re dealing with people holding onto the lower rungs of the economic ladder.  Many loan recipients have no electricity.  If they do, they often can’t afford to use it.  Many get their water either from the Mekong in the dry season or collect rain in the monsoon. ...

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Nov 14, 2007 GH Ghana

I’ve been in Ghana for 3 months now. I thought my culture shock stages were over after the tro-tro (mini-van bus) dodging, fou-fou (sticky plantains mixed with cassava) eating, sun burning, marriage proposing, etc etc…, but I was wrong.Last week I started my Kiva internship, which involved me moving from Cape Coast to Sinapi’s head office in Kumasi. When I stepped off of the jammed packed tro-tro and into Kumasi, I thought I was stepping off of a plane and into a different country. The hustle and bustle of Kumasi is a different beast. The goats and chickens don’t...

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Nov 10, 2007 GT Guatemala

We’re back in the US now, but Nancy and I thought you’d like to see our little book. We were so taken with the wonderful women of Guatemala and their inspiring stories that we compiled the stories and pictures into a little book. It’s only 40 pages, not much of a book, but it does a pretty decent job of capturing what’s really happening with Friendship Bridge and Kiva.

The book is a free pdf download that you can read on your computer (or print out if you want).

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Nov 8, 2007 WS Samoa

Every year, SPBD holds an event to celebrate its clients. An award ceremony is usually held to recognize exceptional members among the ladies who participate in the loan program. This year’s event was held this past Saturday, and it proved to be the grandest celebration to date. For the first time ever, a parade was organized to march down the main road of Apia, featuring over one thousand of SPBD’s clients. The boisterous women arrived in the early morning and, decked out in matching uniforms according to their borrowing centres, sang and danced their way to the starting...

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Oct 14, 2007 UG Uganda

My husband, Taylor and I have had an exciting and challenging first few weeks as we meet new people, learn about the culture, and try to navigate in a city of a million people, with 2 traffic lights total  Peter, LiA’s staff member was the first to show us around. I thought we would get at “taxi,” meaning a driver in front and us in the back, I soon discovered that “taxis” were called Matatus. For anyone who has experienced this form of transportation, they can understand the deer in the headlights look as I boarded a small mini-bus packed with people while the conductor yelled at me in...

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Oct 12, 2007 UG Uganda

It was not my intent to write so soon about another lending group, but I found a real gem in the Alinyikira Lending Group in the Village of Mutundwe, just on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda.

To get to Mutundwe, you have to go to Old Taxi Park in the center of Kampala. This could be a story in itself, but in brief, it consists of approximately 10 acres of land jammed with matatoos: converted Toyota vans capable of handling 14 passengers. They all are white and look exactly the same. Thousands of riders are constantly converging on the park as...

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Oct 8, 2007 WS Samoa

After tossing out some statistics on the poverty situation in Samoa in my first entry, I think I’m ready for a more personal take on the impact of impact of micro-credit and the overall economic situation in Samoa.

South Pacific Business Development is one of Kiva’s earliest partner microfinance institutions. With an entire staff of just 16 employees (including management), the institution covers over 2,000 active clients, whose loans total over $700,000. SPBD follows the original Grameen Bank model by administering its loans via borrowing groups. With very few exceptions, all of...

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Oct 7, 2007 UG Uganda

Rabaga is a district of Kampala, Uganda. It rests on the slope of a hill. Within Rabaga and hidden from the street by small store fronts is an area referred to as a slum. Indeed, it may be a slum, but it is not without a strong sense of community: made stronger by the women who belong to the Rabaga Women’s Lending Group. They meet once a week but their spirit permeates their community daily. They are leaders who wish to make a difference in their community. And, they all own businesses within this area.

I went to attend the group meeting with my translator, Herbert. As we...

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Sep 28, 2007 UG Uganda

Eleven years ago, when I first moved into the neighborhood where I now live, I held a block party. I wanted to meet my neighbors – didn’t want to drive home, politely nod at folks I hadn’t met, but lived next door.

So, I had a block party. It worked. In fact, for the past ten years, it’s rotated from house to house. But, after the seventh year it started to get a little long in the tooth. The desire to “connect” was waning.

I miss the connection. Not just in the neighborhood, but in other ways, too. Too much pop culture, not enough real...

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Sep 26, 2007 KH Cambodia

When I arrived here I was told that Phnom Penh was changing so quickly that even in the two months I would notice the difference in the city between when I arrived and when I left. It’s true that the city have been moving extraordinarily quickly. In 2000 there were no paved roads – now all the main streets are paved- and in 2005 there were no ATMs whatsoever – now they are everywhere. Nonetheless, I was skeptical that I would actually see any changes for myself, but it turns out they were right. My first journal mentioned the craziness of Phnom Penh’s...

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