Grantee Philip Discusses Work With Kiva in the Middle East

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We have many inspiring stories you can read about from our grantees, but our newest grantee who has returned home is Philip Issa. He spent the last year working in Ramallah, Palestine, with Kiva, a microfinance organization that distributes small interest-free capital to local micro-finance institutions in developing countries, who are then able to invest more into their local business owners and community.

My time as a Kiva Fellow was stimulating and rewarding. It is the first time that I’d spent time in Palestine, and I was thankful to have spent it with the warm and welcoming staff of Kiva’s partners. They put up with my broken Arabic and were patient with my incessant questions about the Occupation. They taught me technical, finance-related Arabic for speaking with borrowers and street-slang for speaking with friends. The branch staff, from Jenin to Hebron, made me feel like a guest wherever I went – they stuffed me with liver in Tulkarem, Knafe in Nablus, Falafel in Bethlehem, and M’tabal in Hebron. I am indebted to the field staff for introducing me to borrowers and for explaining to me the realities and quirks of microfinance in the Arab World.

To anybody who has an opportunity to volunteer or work abroad for a meaningful cause in a developing country, my recommendation is this: Go. Apply for grants. You’ll find a way to make ends meet. You won’t regret it.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation