Fellows Blog Posts by Sara

Jun 25, 2010 TZ Tanzania

By Sara Strawczynski, KF11 Tanzania

Five months after boarding a plane to San Francisco, it’s time to wrap up my Kiva Fellowship.  For my last post, I’d like to honour a tradition set by past Tanzanian Kiva Fellows (see  posts by Alec Lovett KF4; Jara Small, KF5; and Jennifer Gong, KF9) and share a few of my observations from this crazy and charming country.  Hope you enjoy!

You know you are in Tanzania when…

  • Handshakes can last several minutes –as long as it takes to get through daily greetings.
  • If it takes under...
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    Jun 23, 2010 TZ Tanzania

    By Sara Strawczynski, Tanzania

    That’s a question I’d never considered before serving as a Kiva Fellow.  I figured that charcoal is a dirty and unsustainable source of fuel, and not one that I want to support.  Charcoal production causes massive deforestation and produces considerable emissions of carbon dioxide.  So when presented with the option of lending to a charcoal seller on Kiva’s website, I always selected an entrepreneur in a different sector to support.

    Flash forward a few months – I have now enjoyed hundreds of meals cooked on charcoal stoves and...

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    Jun 4, 2010 TZ Tanzania

    By Sara Strawczynski, Tanzania

    Yesterday I spent about 12 hours on hot, crowded and bumpy buses in Dar Es Salaam.   At least half of that time was spent idling in traffic jams, an inevitable experience whenever one travels to the far-flung corners of this sprawling city. I was trying to reach a couple of Tujijenge Tanzania clients and interview them as part of Kiva’s borrower verification process (learn more about that by reading some excellent blogs on the topic).  I found one of the two clients I was hoping to meet, so the day was partially successful.

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    May 27, 2010 TZ Tanzania

    By Sara Strawczynski, Tanzania

    The Rideau Canal in my hometown of Ottawa, Canada is the world’s largest skating rink.  Each winter, the canal freezes into a winter wonderland, and I love skating along its 7.8 kilometres of ice.  No skate would be complete without a taste of beavertail at the end.  Despite what its name might imply, beavertails are actually a delightfully deep-fried pastry, covered in cinnamon and sugar.  They are available at huts along the ice, and in my mind, beavertails are as much part of winter as skating, cold feet and hot chocolate.


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    Apr 18, 2010

    In most ways, Tuesday was a pretty average day as a Kiva Fellow.  I spent a few hours working with Bob, the Kiva Coordinator at new field partner Hekima.  We reviewed how Kiva implementation is going at the institution and tried to resolve a few technicalities.   We drafted some new templates and a manual, tools that will help the partnership scale-up and evolve from pilot phase to active phase.  Bob updated me on his plans to train a second Hekima branch on Kiva’s processes, and invited me to come along.  What was not average is that I had to decline.  Bob works in the eastern Democratic...

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    Apr 8, 2010 RW Rwanda

    By Sara Strawczynski, KF10, Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda

    This afternoon I walked the streets of Kigali with thousands and thousands of people, united to commemorate 16 years since the start of Rwanda’s genocide.

    A Walk to Remember in Kigali on April 7th, 2010.

    In 1994, the very road we walked on was systematically transformed into a terrifying assembly of roadblocks, violence and murder. The entire country was engulfed, and when the...

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    Mar 4, 2010 RW Rwanda

    Instructions: Start with a plain white van. Insert several computers. Connect to a power supply as well as a backup power supply. Build connection to a central network. Apply a splashy paint job and finish with enthusiastic staff. Result: A bank on wheels. Okay, the recipe is not that simple, but Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda (UOB)’s newest branch is a mobile branch, a fresh way to provide financial services to Rwanda’s working poor.

    UOB’s motto is Bank for All (or Banki ya Bose in Kinyarwanda). Achieving this is a huge challenge in...

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