(Bamboi, Northern Region, Ghana. Photo Credit: Google Maps)
The fanfare preceding the arrival of the entourage was to put it mildly, eclectic in its ostentation. Rock concerts simultaneously held across continents, commitments of eye popping sums of money by various multilateral agencies, puff pieces dripping with altruistic ends adorning global publications and celebrities making determined faces all made for an atmosphere that was rarified and a purpose that seemed to brook no hurdles.
The Ghanaians watched in bewilderment as a procession of aid agencies invaded their villages and towns and commenced to dig, bore, build and break with a vigour that bordered on the frenzy. The more enterprising ones even talked about telecommunication towers and mobile networks.
Then they all left as abruptly as they came leaving the hosts to their tin sheds, ‘play tires’ and poverty.
All that the country asked for were mosquito nets and multivitamin pills!
(Word Count: 141)
This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw
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Mosquito nets are life and death in malaria country!
They are indeed! It is a travesty that matters of vital and urgent importance get obfuscated by fanfare and irrelevance.
There’s a lot of money in fanfare and none in saving the lives of the poor. Making a profit has become the only moral imperative, so those at the bottom will again die in droves.
It’s a tragedy when someone else redefines your needs.
Succinct little tale that captures the all-too-typical mindset when people mean to ‘fix’ things. Spot on!
Thank you for the kind words!
There’s a lot of truth in what you write here. There do seem to be one or two honourable exceptions, though. Medecins sans Frontieres provides essential medical care wherever there’s most need, even when that means working in a war zone. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation appears to be targeting its aid very carefully e.g. in the elimination of diseases including malaria. But as your piece eloquently points out, much aid does little or no good to the people supposedly being aided.
Thank you so much for the comments. Yes I would be lying through my teeth if I was to deny the fact that there are a few sincere and selfless organisations and individuals sacrificing selfishness at the altar of service. MSF even distinguishes itself in exemplary fashion in the war torn and desolate landscapes of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But as for the rest, less said the better!
So well done, Venky. A sad state of affairs when the “aid” given has nothing to do with the aid needed.
Thank you so much for the kind words! Yes indeed. The so called aid provided by the West has pernicious and hidden elements attached to it. The conditions attached to the “aid” dictate that the developing countries procure essentials from the donors at exorbitant rates, thereby leaving the poor – poorer while a few oligarchs get richer and richer!
A really well written take on a very complex subject. Well done.
Thank you so much!
the first section was dense and I had to go back and slow down to read it – not a bad thing – but rich words and long sentences – part of your style.
and the ending had a nice bite (pun intended) and was so good.
culture rich story
Thanks much! Will work on making the denser bits lighter!
well be careful before you do that – because your style is your style – and while it will change – we need you to be you –
do you know what I mean?
Nice cynical perspective on world aid agencies, told by the ones who are supposed to benefit from them, and in this instance, do not. From the rock star to the ordinary charitable citizen, our guilt is assuaged, but the need remains.
You couldn’t have said it any better! Completely concur with your view.
This is charity with fanfare.