Showing posts from March, 2009

Does food drop from the sky?

Well intentioned aid can sometimes go awry in unintended ways. One story that really stopped me in my boots was told to me by my friend Moses Kariuki - a Kenyan who volunteered for several months in a remote village in Southern Sudan.

According to Moses, if you ask any child or young adult in the Sudanese village he stayed in where food comes from, they will not tell you that it comes from the ground, and that people have to work to grow it. Nor will they tell you that it comes from the supermarket. In their reality - and there is nothing you can say to make it untrue, for they have lived and experienced this all of their lives - food falls from the sky.

So the way to get food if you are hungry, is simply to wait for it to fall from the sky... pooped out by large white buzzing birds with funny markings on their sides.

Our western led institutions with the stated intention to help have created this false truth, and taught most Southern Sudanese to believe it through our own behavior. In …

Dysfunctional Aid

This week, there has been some hoopla about a new book called "Dead Aid," written by a female Zambian economist who argues that global development aid is bad for Africa. I can't wait to read it, but a critique of the book that I read yesterday rightly warns against the world turning it's back on Africa completely.

In just recent weeks I have personally been talking to friends about our global development aid system as "completely dysfunctional." While I still believe that we all have a responsibility to each other's well-being on this planet, I can also say without doubt that the charity-dependent systems we currently use to try and help the world's poorest countries simply are not helping in ways that lay stable foundations for sustainable development. On the contrary - our global development aid systems introduce so many conflicting distortions into what would be Africa's natural economic development process, that almost no healthy economic dev…

Relocation tasks

Tomorrow will be spent putting up the two flyers I've been preparing this week on notice boards around town.

Expat Moving Sale

Please visit on 4 April 2009 :: 10am to 5pm :: Luthuli Ave, Plot 86 (no. 2), Bugolobi

3-piece wicker sofa set shs30,0002 wicker end tables shs5,000 each3-piece local wooden sofa set shs80,0001 light wood medium sized simple table/desk shs20,0002-story bedframe from dark wood shs80,0002 dark wood bookshelves (1.5m x 1.5m) shs35,000 each1 wicker shelf unit (.75m x 1.25m) shs10,0001 light wood standing coat rack shs10,000

4.5 KW Generator shs750,000Clothes washing machine (<1> shs350,000Clothes dryer shs100,000Kitchen Blender shs15,000

Large European baby crib with mattress shs80,000Collapsible playpen shs40,000Large hard plastic kiddie’s swimming pool shs10,000Toddler size push stroller shs40,000Toddler size car seat shs25,000Car seat for 3-5 yr olds shs20,000

Also available on 4 April:Houseplantsplates & dishespots & panstoys & booksmisc househo…

Dr. Madre thinking outloud

My 11 year old Lucas has decided that when I get my Phd. he's going to start calling me Dr. Madre.

I Like it.

On my last day in Belgium I visited the University of Leuven to get a feel for what it takes to publish a dissertation there. Though I knew they had a strong reputation in International Cooperation policy research, I did not know that they also have a special program for foreign Phd students, with the intent of globalizing the University's research base and reputation. They encourage students to spend at least one part of their Phd period outside of Belgium. So it looks like the right place for me to be...

and oh yes, this is Belgium, so it's also FREE! (I had been sincerely worried that the tuition fees would keep me from being able to explore this possibility right now. ) AND I can work on it for as long or a short a period as it takes to finish it, as long as I submit it for review following the university's annual Phd review deadlines.

My mind has not been abl…

Breathing in some new air

I have had a very productive week in Brussels, and am quite proud of myself for all I've managed to accomplish in such a short time. I signed a rental contract yesterday for a lovely old 4 bedroom house in a wonderful neighborhood; found a really nice little pre-school nearby for my youngest son Ben; visited the international school where my older boys will go and finalized their enrollment; caught up with a few old friends, and have eaten some wonderful food.

I feel lighter than I have felt in years. Yes, it is definitely time to breathe in some new air. The perspective on the past 10 years that I feel returning in just this one week of focus on forward looking change is reassuring. Opportunities for living life to it's fullest again seem to drip from the trees... I am excited to experience spring again, to dust off my foreign language skills, and to enjoy the cultural ambience that Europe's capital has to offer.

Just after the new year, I wrote out some goals for the next …