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

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Most of the photos for April Fools' Day were ready before we even hatched our plans (Cambodia pictured)

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.

A Movement called No Pago / Un Movimiento se llama No Pago
Country: Nicaragua / Fellow: Karen Gray (KF14)

Karen provides helpful context for the “No Pago” (or “No Pay”) movement in Nicaragua and what her partner microfinance institution is doing to ensure that it only signs on clients who are willing and able to pay back their loans.

Why does most coffee in Colombia taste like dishwater?
Country: Colombia / Fellow: Nick Hamilton (KF14)

It’s safe to say that Nick’s high expectations for coffee in Columbia have been shattered by reality: the best coffee is exported and what’s left is pretty much unpalatable. Poor guy!

Blast from the Past: KF7 turned microfinance professor visits Colombia to do field research
Country: Colombia / Fellow: John Gwillim (KF14)

Catching up with Fellows is always a treat, particularly when they visit with a documentary film student in tow and a presentation about microfinance models to share with your MFI.

Performing meaningful work for Kiva while learning a new culture
Country: Bolivia / Fellow: Clara Vreeken (KF14)

Clara walks us through her day-to-day life as a Kiva Fellow in La Paz: giving trainings, meeting with clients at the office and at their businesses, updating lenders, and enjoying the opportunity to speak Spanish.

Owe Money, Pay Money
Country: Ghana / Fellow: Mei-ing Cheok (KF14)

Mei-ing is very relieved that her partner microfinance institution takes a much gentler and more respectful approach to collecting on delinquent loans than loan sharks back in her native Singapore.

What was your last business trip like?
Country: Peru / Fellow: Noreen Giga (KF14)

From the city to the mountains to the jungle and back again, Noreen battles altitude sickness, temperature changes, and limited transportation options in her attempts (only some of which were successful) to meet with Kiva clients.

My Heart has Taken Root
Country: Uganda / Fellow: Nila Uthayakumar (KF14)

Knowing that her time was limited, Nila tried to resist getting attached to Uganda. But the people, markets, and natural beauty of her home for the past two months pushed back and she now finds herself utterly enchanted just as she prepares to leave.

In Peru, the race for President heats up
Country: Peru / Fellow: Geeta Uhl (KF14)

Geeta provides a thorough run-down of Peru’s presidential candidates and some of their, um, colorful campaign slogans.

Special Update from the Field: Beaches, Safaris + Cambodian Glamour Shots
Countries: South Africa, Armenia, Cambodia, Mexico, Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Peru, Rwanda, Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Benin, Indonesia / Fellows: Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky (KF14) with the 14th class of Kiva Fellows

In case you missed our hard-hitting April Fools’ Day coverage of what being a Kiva Fellow is REALLY like, you can revisit examples of how to sleep through reporting, torture your coworkers with your karaoke stylings, fabricate excuses to go to the beach, and so much more.

“The Good Family”
Country: Armenia / Fellow: Caree Edson (KF14)

Caree’s been on a winning streak during her past few visits to the field: chocolate, coffee, beautiful views, adorable livestock, and meeting with friendly borrowers tends to make for a pretty great day.

Previous updates from the field:
Social Quirks, Justin Bieber + Lots of Carbs
Fun Facts, Field Visits + Back to Basics
Carnival, Collaboration + Cheese-Making
Man’s Day, Singing Fellows + Learning How to Count
Videos, Epic Commutes + Going Beyond Microfinance
“Christmas”, Trekking, Adversity + Good Company


Plus more pictures from this past week:

Ghana (by Mei-ing Cheok)

Bolivia (by Clara Vreeken)

Peru (by Noreen Giga)

Peru (by Geeta Uhl)

Colombia (by John Gwillim)

Colombia (by Nick Hamilton)

Armenia (by Caree Edson)

Uganda (by Nila Uthayakumar)

Nicaragua (by Karen Gray)

About the author

Alexis Ditkowsky