It’s another scorching day in Moroni, Comoros and it seems I will be stuck here for a while - my next R&R is not due five weeks or so as I have interrupted the count with a recent retreat in Addis Ababa - so I decided to take a break from cooking the books (meant to cover those underspents in “operations” and overspents in “colsultants”) and went for a walk on the beach.
Maybe all this time spent in hardship postings is getting to me, or maybe 'tis the season, but I am in a very philosophical mood today and as I was dignifyingly walking past fishermen, oblivious to their attempts to sell me their day’s catch, I couldn’t help wondering: What will be the future of our business? What will be the next big thing? The next gravy train? Are we doomed to forever follow the conflict money, the famine money, the refugee money or can we branch out some more, into areas where no charity has ever been before? HRI & affiliates are well funded at the moment what with the famine, the draught, the boat people, etc. But what do we need to do to stay ahead of the game and to ensure the cash keeps flowing?
Not so long ago, “terrorism” was the formula. As a first mover, over night HRI become an expert in “Public health and terrorism”, “Migration and terrorism” and “Terrorism prevention: income generating opportunities for high risk groups” - field in which we conducted countless groundbreaking workshops, seminars and capacity building excercise. We even put together a few expert teams formed by retired law enforcement types and one distinguished academic from the University of Utah (all showing a common interest in conducting workshops in South East Asia, preferably Pattaya) and rode the gravy train all the way. As a celebration of Public-Private Partnership we even obtained funding from this or the other security company, eager to implement high-tech biometric technology in village hospitals in Indonesia, primary schools in rural Bangladesh or, incidentally at the outside border of countries that people may rather not live in.
Throughout the mid-naughties HRI has also refined another beautiful business model in close cooperation with several CDAAS (Countries of Destination for Alleged Asylum Seekers): for a reasonable fee, HRI manages an “Alleged Asylum Seekers Assessment Centre” on behalf of the CDAAS Government, which is a convenient way to legitimize-by-humanitarian-charity what would really be a detention center of questionable legal status. Then, an HRI affiliate is commissioning a reasonably priced research into the impact of detention on the AAS (Alleged Asylum Seekers) and finds that detention is bad for their health. HRI’s public health wing subsequently applies for funding to mitigate negative effects on the health of AAS. Indeed, it is another HRI win-win: CDAAS governments are happy because the illusion of legitimacy means a lot to them and HRI is happy because the overhead is pretty good and we can report massive growth in revenue to our donors. The "alleged asylum seekers" may or may not be happy but hey, they should know better, it's a tough world out there and everyone is gotta make a living.
I really think this global warming thing may be the next gravy train. If so we better put the thinking caps on - there must be a way to link global warming with our work. Maybe my humble residence in Moroni could be run on Californian crafted and fairly procured solar power? Or I could trade my V12 Land Crusier for a white Prius with the HRI logo on the side and a HF antenna that could double as a wind turbine? Or maybe I should stop importing south african steak and wines using the HRI operated humanitarian flight?
Hold on, hold on, bugger that - the little Cessna can’t possibly add more CO2 to the atmosphere than those goats there just outside my compound. And those goats make one tough steak i tell you, no wonder those fishermen think i may be interested in their catch.