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Interviews, interviews and more interviews - Phnom Penh

Finally making major inrows into my research!

semi-overcast 33 °C

Doing a research in largely poor nation,
as a small hint: it is south-east Asian,
in town Phnom Penh I set-up my station,
equipped with forms, contacts and patience.

Starting with A and working through list,
hassling C-levels - you get the gist,
an hour of their time is all that I ask,
getting ten meetings seems doable task.

Despite slow start I'm getting some traction,
out of all MFIs I've only seen fraction,
remaining hopeful I decide to chase,
suddenly achieving sizable base.

Coming back after a day of New Year leisure, I'm ready to crack on with my work. Apart from a Point of View I am working on, analysing the possible developments in the microfinance sector in Cambodia, I'm excited about the barrage of interviews I have lined up for the second part of this week.

With two interviews on Wednesday and Thursday and one on Friday, I will have reached and exceeded the minimum number of MFIs required for my research. Almost as exciting as the interviews are my cycle trips to the destinations though. Crazy traffic, ever-present dust, killer sunshine and road unworthy bicycle are some of the challenges I am facing. Another one is the complete lack of local knowledge about what's where in Phnom Penh. This makes Google maps every foreigner's best friend, although even that is often not enough as street numbers repeat and some streets (the new ones) have names that noone actually heard of.

Encouraged by success of my first interview on Wednesday morning, I try to work on my Point of View. My temporary employer might be supportive of my research but I don't want to push their patience by being slow on delivering my part of the volunteering bargain. When afternoon approaches, I'm ready for another trip to the field. Turning up slightly early, I am confronted by a 'battle axe' receptionist, demanding my details. It is a testament to the small size of the company when the lady picks up her mobile and dials the CEO, only to pass the phone to me directly. No good. I have been stood up!

Agreeing to reschedule until the following morning 8.30am, I slowly make my way back to the office. Despite series of apologies about getting stuck in a meeting, I cannot help but wonder if there was no way they could have let me know before I absolved the 15 minutes journey. I guess this is the Cambodian way.

Determined to make-up for my interview related absence in the office, I stay slightly later than usual. So much so that when i'm finally leaving the building, the sun is almost down, making my 'no lights' bike even more of a hazard. I do arrive though and the few minutes to spare are just enough to jump into a yoga kit and rush towards the studio. After two weeks of no exercises and excessive festivities, I'd better make an effort.

My Thursday interview marathon is fortunately more successful than the previous day. With brief stints in the office, I manage to interview 3 different MFIs, one of which is my current volunteering placement. Equipped with different perspectives and inputs from MFIs, the new contributions are even more interesting as i am starting to see patterns and themes between types of MFIs and also types of people in charge.

Exhausted after a day on my feet, I am happy when I finally arrive at the guest house and settle in for a chat with other volunteers. The longer I am in Cambodia, the more people I have became friends with are leaving. This weekend is a departure time for another two and so before commencing the weekend by taking a long bumpty bus to Kratie, I got enrolled for Friday night leaving drinks / dinner.

With only one interview on Friday, the day flies and it is not long to go before I am free to start 3 days weekend. Monday is a bank holiday in Cambodia so bring it on! It seems that coming here in December and January was a good move.

Posted by TheDukes 22:23 Archived in Cambodia Tagged phnom_penh volunteering research microfinance

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