BRAC and a Sri Lankan Haiku
By Cheney Wells, KF11, Sri Lanka
In 1972, Fazle Hasan Abed founded BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) to serve the needs of the people of the newly sovereign state of Bangladesh. Today BRAC is one of the largest development NGOs in the world, providing services that extend beyond micro-credit, to include health, education, social development, and human rights initiatives, to name a few. The power and efficiency of BRAC helped facilitate a quick response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated the small island of Sri Lanka; within four months of the tsunami, BRAC was operating in Sri Lanka.
Kiva began reaching Sri Lankan borrowers in February of this year, through the partnership with BRAC Sri Lanka, and the help of Kiva Fellow Brian Kelly. In the three short months since the first Kiva loan was made to a Sri Lankan borrower, hundreds of Sri Lankans have already received loans for their businesses. Brian has done a tremendous job integrating BRAC Sri Lanka and Kiva, setting up standard processes to allow BRAC and Kiva to run together smoothly. In fact, Brian may have done his job too well; BRAC employees now ask me how they can volunteer as Kiva Fellows! This was Brian’s last week here, and I am now carrying on the work he began, in an effort to move BRAC Sri Lanka from a pilot-stage to an active stage on Kiva’s site. I will be working in BRAC’s Colombo office for 3-months, before returning in the fall to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where I am currently pursuing a Masters in Development Economics.
At Fletcher, there was a recent movement amongst the students to sum up their theses in the form of a haiku. I found this to be a clever, amusing way to get a glimpse into the work of others; even shorter than an abstract, it forces you to choose each word critically. Ironic as it is, there is a lot to be said for brevity. With people’s dwindling attention spans, the online platform Twitter has been successful in large part due to the catchy austere format of its messaging. With the growing popularity of mobile phones around the world, the number of SMS (short message service) texts sent by the average cellphone user is often more than the number of phone calls made. Brevity. Having left Boston seventeen days ago, I thought today would be a fitting day to post, in line with the seventeen syllables (more correctly known as moras, or in Japanese, onji) contained in a haiku. I thus leave you with a couple of haikus—a glimpse of my experience so far:
City by the sea,
Your busy artery runs-
Will you ever rest?
Colombo was dark.
It’s lighter since learning to
eat rice with my hand.