With the corpse of 1millionshirts still cooling off on the battlefield, where the strategy to “bring it on like a man” apparently did not work out to well for them, the ashes are slowly settling over another epic battle in the world of online “aid & development”, until the next sucker touches another nerve and we can all awaken again and lynch some teenager trying to impress chicks with a cheesy sounding idea on his facebook, the sort that Angelina would approve of (fact: chicks dig givers).
Speaking of which, am i the only one who, during the hottest moments of this “debate” was wondering: What would Angelina have done? Which side would they have Bono taken?
Regardless, it’s all over now and it is time for all of us to get back to our life-saving work. For me that means preparing my keynote speech at the upcoming African Aid Workers Congress, to take place in Monrovia later this month, where I have been invited on the panel along with other reputable African aid experts from Atlanta, Georgia, Washington, DC and one bloke from Geneva, name to be confirmed.
Liberia is an excellent place for aid meetings, rivaled in west Africa only by neighboring Sierra Leone as a "country of contrasts" that has gone a long way from civil war and destruction to being a stable democracy where one can have a well organized extracurricular topic on any development event agenda that would include friendly matches between amputee football teams - the sort of stuff that replaces the usual “cultural show” with a mix of actually going to the beach, a bit of feel-good factor, an opportunity for grave reminiscing and a feeling that one witnesses something better, in a very "african" landscape that conveniently confirms one's expectation of palm trees and chaotic driving. A very good (photo) opportunity as well for future smugness, constructive or not, and many a tale about suffering told in the future, always with the same changes in tone of one’s voice.
During the congress itself, I am looking forward to fascinating discussions about what differentiates “aid” from “development” – solving this thorny issue once and for all, by means of a list of action points developed by subcommittees, will greatly help the HRI coalition of affiliates on the ground make another significant step towards becoming a regional leader in achieving MDG no. 8 – “develop a global partnership for development”.
Further life-saving topics of discussions will doubtlessly include construing relevant standards on the difference between very vulnerable people and the merely vulnerable (a crucial debate in which, as some of you may remember, I have previously been involved during another life-saving activity). Perhaps discussions in the subcommittees will even address the complex issue of how to interpret the definition of “extreme poverty” as reflected by the baseline 2004 Millennium Development Goals Report (MDGR) for Liberia and apply it to today’s realities (also a good opportunity for mentioning blood diamonds and their “disempowering effects in the vicious circle of poverty”).
Nathan the intern will come along as the organizers can use some help with logistics – he will even get to practice his public speaking as he will address the plenary regularly with updates on tea breaks and “process checks”. In expectation of this trip he has just used our regular diplomatic pouch in Moroni to ship in three or four new lenses for his DSLR from back home. Indeed, Nathan the intern is a photography enthusiast, already planning a exposition on “Africa” upon his return in his local coffee shop. Meanwhile he also gets to practice his photo & layout skills with finalizing the congress report – another small favour that we’ll do on behalf of the coalition, for a very modest fee.
You may think it is unusual that HRI would invest in letting an intern attend such a conference, but who knows I say, perhaps with more exposure like this Nathan the intern will become the African Aid expert of the future.