Fellows Blog Posts by cmcmurry

Aug 7, 2009 BO Bolivia

By Cynthia McMurry, KF8 Ecuador

Over the past year, I have learned valuable lessons about life, gotten to know myself better, greatly enriched my understanding of microfinance, observed the workings of the informal economy in Latin America, been touched by many clients’ stories and experiences, and been proud to represent Kiva at four different MFIs in three South American countries.

Some of my favorite moments, though, have absolutely nothing to do with microfinance. They’re little cultural quirks, lifestyle adaptations, or just silly everyday things that make me...

Continue Reading >>

Jul 14, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Cynthia McMurry, KF8, Ecuador

Everyday conversations with people in Cuenca provide countless anecdotes of people whose families have been separated by emigration. Everyone seems to have family in the US or Spain, if not a spouse then a brother, sister, cousin or child. At a group meeting last week, a borrower joked that she’d like me to sneak her into the US in my backpack. I asked her and the rest of the group if they had family members in the States, and all ten women nodded their heads in unison.  Recently, I was chatting with a friend whose father is living in New...

Continue Reading >>

Jun 30, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Cynthia McMurry, KF8 Ecuador

Time and cost are enormous disincentives for the working poor when it comes to getting medical treatment. Time spent visiting the doctor is time you’re not at work generating income, and money spent on these visits is money that could otherwise be spent on your children’s education or reinvested in your business. These disincentives are strong enough that relatively minor, treatable ailments often go untreated and eventually develop into much more complicated, serious conditions that require more intensive treatments and can even be...

Continue Reading >>

Jun 17, 2009 PE Peru

In a desperate last-minute attempt to get my name off the top of the “least-blogging fellows” list and fulfill my grandma’s request for more blogs, I’d like to share some of my favorite photos from my 10-week placement at Asociacion Arariwa in Cusco, Peru.

Arariwa is an amazing organization with an extremely dedicated group of loan officers. I was consistently impressed with loan officers’ dedication to their clients—not just putting in long hours for little pay and running risks by carrying cash, but in some cases even relocating to remote villages in order to serve clients without...

Continue Reading >>

Nov 26, 2008 PE Peru

By Cynthia McMurry, KF5 Peru

When FINCA staff interview clients to write their Kiva profiles, the last question each client is asked is “What are your dreams for the future?” As I looked at the profile of FINCA client after FINCA client, I was struck that almost everyone had some variation of the same three dreams:

1) “For my children to graduate with professional degrees” or “For my children to get a good education.” 2) “To open my own store” (for ambulatory vendors), “To open another store,” “To expand my store,” or “To offer a wider variety of merchandise in my...

Continue Reading >>

Sep 19, 2008 BO Bolivia

As I wrote in my last blog entry, my weekend’s planned excursions included a climb up the tallest statue of Jesus in the world (disappointing—turns out he’s closed on Sundays) and a hike in nearby Tunari national park. It also included an unplanned visit to the Clinica Belga Boliviana, the fanciest-sounding hospital in my Lonely Planet guidebook. I had learned the hard way that angry dogs really do bite you in the butt, just like countless cartoon mailmen. I told the clinic’s emergency room attendant that I’d been attacked by a wild dog in the...

Continue Reading >>

Sep 5, 2008 BO Bolivia

I have eaten more in the past six days than in my previous five weeks in Bolivia. Cochabambinos pride themselves on living in the eating capital of Bolivia, and the third question people ask you after “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” is usually “How do you like the food?” The local specialty is pique, a big pile of beef, chicken, sausage, hot dogs, tripe, chicharrones, hard-boiled eggs and udder (udder!) stacked 8-12 inches high on a bed of french fries. Ronny and Paola, AgroCapital’s Credit Manager and...

Continue Reading >>

Aug 16, 2008 BO Bolivia

During Kiva orientation, we each had to name our biggest fears about the fellowship. I said I was nervous about not fitting in—I’d learned to adapt pretty well while living in Chile for a year and on my best day I could pass for Chilean, but I knew living in Bolivia would be another story. As soon as I set foot in El Alto, however, I realized how silly my worries were as this fear was immediately eclipsed by another—the constant feeling that I was about to be run over by a minibus.


... Continue Reading >>