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Another working week as a volunteer at AMK MFI

Making myself useful and fighting the urge to support my fellow volunteers with their drinking exploits

semi-overcast 34 °C

I feel like my Cambodian adventure is turning into a literary assignment. When I signed up for a couple of months microfinance volunteering, I expected there is going to be a fair amount of writing. But even my most ambitious estimate has been way off the mark. Combined with my finishing last Masters essay, doing microfinance research and blogging about what I actually do, I seem to be permanently glued to keyboard (except weekends perhaps as my previous blog posts suggest).

Having said that, I have just successfully submitted my 2nd main piece of prose, this time on the topic of ‘The future developments of microfinance in Cambodia’ so happiness all around. With a couple of hours breathing time, I choose to WRITE a blog instead. Hmmmm.
Following a few lazy weeks over the festive season, Tuesday came and with it my renewed determination to jump back on the exercising wagon. This was by no means easy as a number of select few at the guest house invested considerable effort in tempting me to join in the domestic drinking session. With copious amounts of alcohol displayed on the guest house dining table, I figured out that they will still be there when I get back and set off towards the yoga studio.

As predicted, my return almost two hours later was marked by the same scene I left previously. Encouraged by this development and in an urgent need for a shower, I chatted to my new friends before making my excuses to temporarily retire. So far so good. Except that when I made it back, refreshed albeit with dripping hair, the rest of the people was just boarding a tuk tuk to the notorious Top Banana. Concluding that I needed a few more minutes to get ready, I was abandoned at the guest house. There’s nothing like friends.

Settling in for a compulsory email check, I briefly toyed with the idea of accepting the invitation and joining the rest of the people in the bar. This didn’t last long, however, and with the progressive time, I opted for an early night in. Unlike most of the people who were either leaving the next day for pastures new or taking the day off, I had to face the realities of working life. My decision proved to be right when I bumped into a small group of worse for wear party goers the next day and listened to the entertaining stories about people passing out, being carried out of the bar and generally misbehaving in not that unusual way for the crowd that I befriended.

Energized after a good night sleep, I finished a new set of focus group guidelines enhanced with a very comprehensive set of discussion questions to be test-run by my team, before proceeding to follow-up on my interview request with MFIs. And Bingo! My perseverance was rewarded by a couple of new interviews for next week. At this point, any new interviews are a bonus so I’m looking forward to meeting new faces of the Cambodian microfinance sector, without the stress of counting how many more I need to get in.

Being one of the few non-hangover people at the guest house, my arrival from work was greeted with a number of groans and feeble glances. Half-joking inquiry about heading out for drinks was passed with incredulous nods so accepting defeat, I decided to head for a coffee and cinema. Fortunately, my night cycle ride was less scary by having recruited Mikkel, who albeit hangover was happy to make the most of the receding evening.

Having heard recommendations of the new Lew Mis musical and seeing it a few years back in London, I arrived at the cinema with high expectations. My bubble was rudely burst very early on, however, when Russel Crowe opened his mouth to ‘sing’. Fortunately the film got progressively better and at the end of it, we agreed that it was worth the 3USD pop.

Temporarily at a loss about my responsibilities for the next couple of weeks, I greeted Thursday with determination to catch-up with people back at home, tidy-up my research planning paper and generally make myself useful wherever possible. Seeing that with two of my main tasks complete there would be no immediate assignments coming my way, I put on my consulting hat and reviewed the company’s website and Facebook page.

Taking a little time to compose my thoughts and ideas, I requested an audience with the Head of Marketing and spent early afternoon chatting through possible areas of improvement. Unsurprisingly, some of my feedback was received with knowing looks and so after an hour of talking, it was settled that I will develop a proposal about promoting their Facebook page and enhancing its contents. As one of the objectives is to raise awareness of the page’s existence, I took the liberty of providing a link here. Considering the good cause the AMK microfinance institution is pursuing, you can help a lot by ‘like’ing the page and sharing it around.

Whilst the quality is not there yet, watch the space...

Posted by TheDukes 17:16 Archived in Cambodia Tagged volunteering microfinance amk_mfi

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