Sunday, September 27, 2009

On the Road Again

Just a little update/warning to everyone subscribed that this blog is going to be back in action, for the time being at least.  Some of you are on an email list so you get emails every time I update, I thought I would give you fair warning before you get barraged with updates. New news to some and old news to others, I'm heading to Indonesia in a bit, leaving 3 weeks from yesterday.  I'm working for a small private consulting firm/NGO until the beginning of December. I'm working on a final evaluation of the tsunami response programs implemented by an INGO (international non-governmental organization), and I'm working on a literature/desk review for about a month from home, and will then be in Banda Aceh, Indonesia for about 5 weeks collecting data and then contributing to the final report.  Banda Aceh is in Northern Sumatra and is run relatively independently of the rest of Indonesia, operating under Sharia law. To the right there's a link to news updates about Banda Aceh if you'd like to learn more. I'll give more updates as I have them, but thought I'd get back into the habit of blogging now. Below you'll find a poem I stumbled across that describes one side of NGO development work and it struck me as quite accurate (in some but not all development situations). Enjoy, happy fall, and thanks for reading.

The Development Set, by Ross Coggins

Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I'm off to join the Development Set;
My bags are packed, and I've had all my shots
I have traveller's checks and pills for the trots!

The Development Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses.

In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn multi-national corporations;
injustice seems easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.

We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.

We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution --
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.

The language of the Development Set
Stretches the English alphabet;
We use swell words like "epigenetic"
"Micro", "macro", and "logarithmetic"

It pleasures us to be esoteric --
It's so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies are much improved.

When the talk gets deep and you're feeling numb,
You can keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, are intelligent
Smugly ask, "Is it really development?"

Or say, "That's fine in practice, but don't you see:
It doesn't work out in theory!"
A few may find this incomprehensible,
But most will admire you as deep and sensible.

Development set homes are extremely chic,
Full of carvings, curios, and draped with batik.
Eye-level photographs subtly assure
That your host is at home with the great and the poor.

Enough of these verses - on with the mission!
Our task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray god the biblical promise is true:
The poor ye shall always have with you.

Ross Coggins
"Adult Education and Development" September 1976