Cabo Verde, meu Amor

Welcome to Fogo

Before going to Senegal, I knew I had to take a week off the country during my fellowship to renew my visa (Tourist Visa is only 3 month and I stay 4 in Senegal). From Dakar, there is not much choice for a cheap and direct fly to a nice country : Bamako, Abidjan, Niamey or Praia.
For the first three destinations, I wonder if it was the best time for a French guy to go out there…so, with little convictions, I decided to flight to Cape Verde.
I have to say that, in my imagination, Cape Verde was just another “tourist country” with only beaches and Hotels all along the seafront.
So I bought my fly ticket with 2 others friends with zero info about the country (population, history, “must-do”…)
Furthermore, I was surprised that those Islands were off Kiva scope…but I have learnt it is often in the unknown that one makes the uncommon meet.
My first surprised was the landscape of the first Island I have visited, Fogo:
Before climbing Pico do Fogo at 6am

Believe me, after the 3hours of walk to climb up the 3000 meters of  “Pico do Fogo”, you won’t ever think again that Cape Verde is only “beaches”.
Top of Pico do Fogo

However, if you really want to find desert beaches, you still can be served:

White sands beach...

Also, if you want more "cultural" vacation, go to Cidade Velha on Santiago Island, the former capital of the country and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There, you will visit the Fort and discover that those Islands were totally uninhabited before Portugueses' arrival in the 15th century.

The country was in the center of the Atlantic slave trade and this city was the first permanent European settlements in the Tropics.
Then, you will understand the most precious treasure of this paradise: the people

You will be amazed by the kindness, the generosity and the solidarity of Cape Verdean.
I am going to tell you one anecdote to illustrate it.
To travel from one city to another, you have to take “Collectivos”. Those collective taxis can load up 18 people (for 12seat ;-)) who (normally) take a unique road.
Whereas we were full (ie. 16 people + 3 seats occupied by 4 pots, 2 bags of concrete, 1 handsaw, 1 drill…), a man stop the car, speak to the driver, 2 men get out, the first gets in, we make a U-turn…
We leave the main road, drive for 10 minutes to reach a small village and we finally stop in a frond of a small unfinished house. Suddenly a woman goes out with her infant in her arms and her own mother. They get in, people welcome the new comer with smiles, no one complains about this detour and we continue our road as if nothing had happened.
I don’t only write to talk about my wonderful week and make you want to go there. I also want to ask a question: why Kiva is not there?
On the one hand, Cape Verde has been listed as a developing country in 2007, their HDI is only of 0.586 (132 out of 186), microenterprises account for about 50% of employment and 38% of the population lives in rural areas.
But on the other hand, without any lack of natural resources Cape Verde has an outstanding stability and developmental growth. Also Cape Verde´s economy grew on average at around six percent from 2000 to 2010.
Plus there are already some existing microfinance Institutions. For example, ASDIS is already working with low-income populations involved in the agriculture.
And the wine made in Fogo is just incredible!
So if I have to sum up: a beautiful developing country with a kind and hard worker population and great wine.
Conclusion: please Kiva, send me to Cape Verde to find a partner or to work with one.
What? I don’t speak Portuguese? Just a detail, I am French and can talk with my hand it should be fine ;-)

About the author

Fred-éric Bergheimer

Born in Paris to a Tunisian mother and a German father, Fred was raised by a nanny from Benin and the only boy among five girls. Thanks to his parents, at the age of 16 he has already traveled across 5 different continents, opening his mind to different cultures. After a Masters degree in Management, he discovered the concepts of Sustainable Development and microfinance. Having finished his MBA in Sustainable Development, he worked for 6 months at a legal office besides taking courses at the legal school to finally obtain a Master in private law. Afterwards, he worked for 2 years at an insurance company as a Project Manager working on the group strategy towards Sustainable Development. Unfortunately, he still felt a void in his work life, lacking fulfillment and sense of purpose. Then, he discovered the Kiva Fellows program of Kiva: travelling abroad, encountering people, trusting people, giving meaning to his work. Now, he is both thrilled and frightened to live this whole new experience as a Fellow for CAURIE in Senegal.