Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The long and winding road!

I had a long conversation about humanitarian aid with a co-worker today. It was about humanitarian aid but it touched on education, transport, housing, displacement, development...the list could go on. The seemingly endless list says less about our ability to stick to the point than it does about the complexities of helping people in difficult situations. When faced with so many variables, most of which you have little influence over – certainly none you control – it would be easy to admit defeat before even attempting anything. While neither of us seem predisposed to pre-emptive defeatism, as we look at where we go from here it’s fair to say we’re both grappling with the question: where do you start?

You have to start with what you can do. Yes, there needs to be a big picture, a grand scheme perhaps, but those are never achieved overnight. But the picture must be of individuals, of names not numbers. Help must help them. Self-serving projects may make for great project reports but for all their pretty pictures and slick sound bites they run the risk of missing the point completely. Of course, it’s too easy to type high-minded statements like that and then go out and commit the offences you so readily condemn in others. If nothing else it’s time to proceed with caution.

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