This was a very interesting blog piece that I read and responded to a couple weeks ago. I just thought that I would share this with others since it is such an interesting topic. I did minor editing to her piece, minor stuff like capitalizing the beginning of her sentences. Nothing more because it expresses her perfectly.
Feel free to follow up on my friend and her blog if you please, her name is Kate Riley [http://katemriley.wordpress.com/]
What I am actually (officially) doing here
So besides picking my nose and making granola, I am acting coordinator of BRA’s USAID Women’s Empowerment Program in the South East Border Regions of Haiti. (there’s a lot of possessives in that sentence, which about sums up how this kind of development work seems to go- everyone wants to be the owner of whatever good comes out of these projects and they do whatever they can to slap their emblem-laden banners all over the place). I have never been a big supporter of development projects that are written up like business reports and throw all kinds of money around. I don’t know anyone who is, probably because I hang out with liberals. I mean, almost everyone passing through the uber-enlightnened CDAE program at UVM has written a paper (or two or three) deriding the failure of one USAID project or another, myself included. Down here, signs for USAID projects are almost as common as billboards for Brugal Rum (the national poison).
Many of these projects have failed, some are still underway and there is the possibility that some of them have resulted in some good in someone’s hemisphere. As far as my conflicted feelings go right now, I am not thrilled with the huge scope of this project nor the publicity hounds that have put me in charge of it….so why do it? I guess I still harbour a naive hope that with my drive and vision I can make some little part of this program work. I have my doubts. and I do not doubt that behind most large, failing grants there is someone just like me: dedicated, imbedded in a community in need with only the welfare of the grant beneficiaries in mind- so how do these monstrosities of good intentions fail to actually help people? This blog may very well turn into a blow-by-blow account of how it goes down. (Although, for the record, I am making it my job to pull some lasting goodness out of the mounds of money being thrown at the people of anse-a-pitre). That being said, I plan to do my best to stay positive while also staying honest.
lorenzo wrote @ March 23, 2010 at 7:51 PM
I am very proud of your determination. I agree with you fully on how some of the project coordinators have the best intentions and work their asses off to make projects work but at many times, outside factors don’t permit the success of programmes. I myself now know a couple of honest Belizeans that wholeheartedly strive to make poverty alleviation projects work. At first I was amazed because I thought our small country lacked people with the drive and will power to want to help poor people whom lack basic services which in return shackles them to their circumstances. From my initial thought, most of my life I believed that unintentionally, our culture was raising children to be selfish (‘mind deh own biznes’) and say remarks such as: “da fu deh fault deh poor.” –I love when I am proven wrong on that thought. Yes some people don’t care about others but many people do care and actually show it by following through with actions. And that’s the most important part, following through with actions. You can say you care and support the thought but what good is only that? Sitting back and making time pass by, waiting for others to help and then applaud them and say: “thank you for your initiative, this is a great spectator sport.”