VSOC

This weekend was the VSO Committee meeting. And I haven’t even told you all about the HIV/AIDS awareness day yet. (Every time Im in the lab there seems to be some pressing work-related business to attend to. Those of you who might expect to be getting email from me have noticed this too. I appologise and hope to be able to catch up on all that come the vacation)

Meanwhile there is something on my mind that I want to share here to get your feedback on.

The VSOC are meetings of all the volunteers in a certain region of Kenya, where we get the chance to meet up in nice surroundings, bitch mightily about our placements and the VSO Kenya office, Kenyan banks, our employers and the people we meet, the food and the weather, and to make official recommendations to the VSO office via the diluting influence of National VSOC meetings. Its all very beaurocratic but the accommodation and travel is paid for* and when you live on the equivalent of three quid a day, this can be very important!

*the rate we’re allowed to claim for accommodation was one of the topics of the meeting.

That was saturday afternoon. Then, on sunday we had a great, if somewhat short, talk on fund raising (in which to ‘fund raise’ was used as a verb rather than ‘raise’ with funds as the object, which I thought rather telling). The lady who lead the session was an experienced fund raiser. She started by making us think of the question: “why do we want to fund raise [sic]”.

Since I’ve been here and reading Stupid White Men, The Road To Hell and Globalisation And Its Discontents, Ive been brewing up the idea that since charity has a rather bad track-record, political action might be the only effective way to help people whose countries are being fucked over by the western Powers (be those governments, businesses or the kind of combination of the two that the Bush reigeme seems to represent).

In contrast, our fund raiser and thought provoker, said that when she gets back the UK she wants to do something very small and local and community based. She believes that all change comes from within and working at grass roots level may be the most effective way to proceed.

Perhaps its true: international aid is, at best, a political instrument. Charity a powerful weapon for enforcing foreign policy.

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