Anatomy of “The Field” – Chacos & Cuddling Piglets

For many NGO’s and even corporate offices, “the field” refers to branch offices and client meetings held outside of company headquarters. “Going into the field” is a very commonly used phrase on the Kiva Fellows blog. This broad definition applies to the work of Kiva Fellows as well, but we get to say we are “off to the field” with extra pizazz because, well – we literally go to the fields.

Step into my office...

Step into my office...

(You should not be expecting anything profound from this blog post…after all, cuddling piglets is in the title!)

Field Equipment - Don't leave home without:

Field Equipment - Don't leave home without:

  1. Small Backpack
  2. Flip Video Camera
  3. Motorcycle Helmet
  4. Digital Camera
  5. Notebook & Pen
  6. Toilet Paper in Ziploc Bag (Might save your life!)
  7. Purell
  8. Water
  9. Sunscreen
  10. GPS device
Chaco tan/dirt lines - the Kiva Fellow tattoo

Chaco tan/dirt lines - the Kiva Fellow tattoo

In Cambodia, most houses in “the field” are built on stilts to create a shady space underneath which the families go about their daily activities, often times sharing the space with their cows, pigs, and chickens who are also trying to escape the 100+ heat. Most of my interviews with Kiva entrepreneurs take place on a wooden bench in the “shade.”

Chillen' under the house

Hangin' under the house

It is easy to romanticize “the field.” I’m not going to lie; I feel pretty bad-ass flying through the Cambodian countryside on a motorcycle with my Camelbak full of equipment. I believe strongly in the work that I am doing with Kiva and AMK, and the field is where all the action takes place. After spending 5 straight days in the field this week, however, I can assure there is a flip side to the romanticized version. The heat is excruciating, I sweat more than I thought is humanly possible, I get filthy dirty, riding on the back of a moto for more than 20 minutes on bumpy dirt roads leaves me more saddle sore than any horse could, and the local food, despite being delicious, can send me running for a toilet, if I am lucky enough to find one. “The Field” does not operate on a clock, and microfinance is a very social construct in Cambodia, particularly when it comes to village bank loans. This is my polite way of saying that there is a lot of “down time” in “the field,” so I am learning to check my notions of efficiency at the door each day. “The Field” is an amazing experience and well worth the uncomfortable side effects. Occasionally I see some amusing things and just happen to have a video camera in my hand. Here are a few random out-take clips from the field. Check out the spooning piglets – gotta love it!



About the author