Thursday, August 19, 2004

Excerpt of reviews of "Another Day In Paradise" -

I tried going back to reading fiction, sick and tired of the jargonic, bureaucratic works I and others produce. I must be very picky because I find it really hard to find something I really enjoy reading in fiction. I'd rather write it myself.

So here is what I am reading these days. I bought a bunch of books at one time, which is totally atypical for me.

- Another day in Paradise: International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories, compiled and edited by Carol Bergman
- No room at the table: Earth's Most Vulnerable Children, by Donald H. Dunson
- Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, by Kevin Bales
- Silent Terror: A Journey Into Contemporary African Slavery, by Samuel Cotton
- Free the Children: A Young Man Fights Against Child Labor and Proves that Children Can Change the World, by Craig Kielburger, with Kevin Major
- Emma's War: An Aid Worker, A Warlord, Radical Islam, and the Politics of Oil - A True Story of Love and Death in Sudan, by Deborah Scroggins.

This is all part of a personal project but the personal and professional are never so far apart. So, you ask, what does this have to do with Knowledge for Development? It has to do with feeling so far away from where so called "development" is supposed to happen. It has to do with wondering what it is that I contribute, wondering whether I am not part of the problem. It has to do with knowing that not only do I not have any answers to development problems, but I could be contributing to the problems. If we can't help, the least we should do is "do no harm".

To a large extent, it is the ethical and moral issues around development and humanitarial issues that I am interested in at the moment. The distance between the "helpers" and the "beneficiaries" is too great. The words we use are wrong. The realities we live in are too separate. Yet to feel productive as a professional, to feel that at least, I am not hurting anyone and perhaps I am doing something to contribute to solutions rather than problems, then it is essential to consider that distance, to look at the ethical and moral issues, to wonder and ask questions where questions need to be asked. I know very little, but at least I know that.

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