Thursday, June 10, 2004

Welcome to Tajikistan

I hopped off a plane at 4:30, this morning, but my brain had absolutely no idea what time it really was. I feel like the last few days have been quite a blur. I came to Dushanbe via Paris, London, Munich, and Istanbul. The layover was quite nice, in London. I was able to spend a day with my old friend, Jeanette Lyman, who's now a student at Oxford. She showed me around that ancient little town, and I even got to see the dining hall where they filmed the Harry Potter movies at Hogwarts. It was good to chat with Jeanette; she was the first person who ever told me about micro-credit back when we were in Ukraine shortly after my mission. I've learned a thing or two, since that time, and we chatted about my opinions that the micro-finance industry should be privatized to take advantage of venture capital markets. Apparently, Oxford is a bastion of Marxist thought (who'd have known that the term is not yet universally considered an oxymoron?), so Jeanette has promised to find me a good Marxist critique of micro-finance. I'm excited.

So anyway, back to Tajikistan. I leave tomorrow for a small town in the mountains. Apparently, the FINCA program in Tajikistan received its funding from USAID under the conditions that they would focus on the more embattled parts of the country. The idea, as I understand it, is to encourage stability by investing in a region. That seems like it could be a logical plan. FINCA has only been in Tajikistan for about 6 months, and ninety percent of the clientele are located in the community of Kurgantyube, an area of extreme ethnic conflict. We'll meet with the office staff, there, and book a venue to meet with the clients when we return, next week. I use the term 'we,' because I have pseudo-partner named Nigina, a native Tajik who recently graduated from a social work program at Washington University in St. Louis. I'm not sure how much of the project she'll work with me on, but it's nice to have some assistance.

So that's the news. I'll post some pictures as soon as I take them.

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