I need to give props to the Kiva Fellows, who work with many of the same microfinance institutions that partner with IPA in the field. (In Peru, IPA also works with Arariwa, Manuela Ramos, PRISMA, and used to work with Finca-Peru.) Their day-to-day work is similar to that of some IPA Project Associates (except when we wrestle with STATA or are trying to avoid getting buried under an avalanche of twenty thousand surveys). In helping create profiles for the Kiva web site, they really get a sense of what the everyday life of microfinance clients is all about. And they tell great stories about it.
A recent post by Cynthia McMurry really resonated. She points out that Ecuadorians have five different types of bananas, which makes purchasing them linguistically challenging. My words of encouragement? As soon as you learn the name for each type, you'll find that each has yet another name in neighboring Latin American countries. Which means that if you travel, you won't know what you are eating until you increase your list of banana-related vocabulary up to 15 words or so. Don't even get started with potatoes in Peru. And watch out for the hecklers.
Check out their blog, especially Cynthia's, at http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/