Saturday, July 06, 2013

Dear NGOs, *THIS* is how you promote your work

These days I avoid looking at charity posters on the Tube.  More often than not, they're crass, they're tasteless, they portray poor people as helpless and their situation hopeless.

It makes me very angry, because I've worked for NGOs, and do you know what inspires me about their work?  It's the potential of every single person they help.  It's the fantastic difference that is made through a joint effort between everyone involve, and the belief that the difference can be made.

It feels like a massive betrayal for NGOs to then turn around and define these wonderful people simply by the desperate situation in which they find themselves.  Because it often is desperate, and they often need a leg-up.

But before I dig into my pocket and donate to a cause, I want to know what difference my donation will make.  I don't want it turned into a competition over whose poverty is the worst.  I want to be inspired, and to know that my donation will not be squandered.  I want to be told more about the future, than about the past.

And that is why this video is AMAZING.

Watch it until the very end.

[YouTube link]

Hat-tip to my good friend Elin, with whom I worked in Tanzania nearly a decade ago, and who now spends most of her time teaching in Cambodia.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Thatcher: A Pictorial Representation Of My Twitter Feed Yesterday

Yesterday, of course, Maggie Thatcher died.  For many the party started as soon as they heard the news.  I'm not one to celebrate the death of an old lady who is no longer involved actively in politics, and thankfully few of the people I know on social media are either.

More to the point, I don't really see what there is to celebrate, or what difference her death makes.  Her politics live on in an even more dangerous form in the current crop of lizard politicians, as they have demonstrated this week with swingeing cuts to the welfare state that Maggie could only have dreamed of.  And at least she seemed to believe in the conviction of her ideology, as opposed to the cynical making-a-buck-for-their-friends bunch we're lumbered with now.

Twitter, of course, provided entertainment by the bucketload for those who, like me, are indifferent to her passing.

First there was the glorious confusion (much of it, it has to be said, deliberate) in the hashtags #nowthatcherisdead and #nowthatchersdead, which many read as "Now That Cher Is Dead".

Then the bemusement of One Direction fans when Harry Styles tweeted "Baroness Thatcher RIP".  To be fair, it's not that surprising that many people born several years after Thatcher left office haven't heard of her.  I'm not sure I could have told you much about the PMs of the 70s when I was a teenager.  Come to think of it, I'm not sure I could tell you much now.

However, this pic on the Who Is Margaret Thatcher? tumblr that quickly sprang up to document the youth of today's ignorance is glorious.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Riddle Of The Housekeepers And The Cat

A riddle for you:

You require the services of a new housekeeper, to whom you will supply money for the day to day running of the house.

There are two applicants for the job, both of whom you have employed before.

Housekeeper 1 is disapproving of your bank overdraft, and claims to be reluctant to spend any of the housekeeping until the overdraft is cleared.

Housekeeper 1 also refuses to personally carry out essential jobs around the house. Instead, Housekeeper 1 will insist it is better value for money to pay their friends to do the jobs instead, even though it ends up costing you twice as much.

Housekeeper 1 will, at the same time, insist that any non-essential items bought for their own personal use, be paid for out of the housekeeping.

Housekeeper 1 will refuse to feed the cat, citing the cat's unwillingness to contribute to its own food, despite the existence of a tin opener. Housekeeper 1 will neglect to accept that the tin opener provided is unsuitable for use by the cat, and is in any case kept out of the cat's reach, inside a locked cupboard.

Housekeeper 1 will replace your comprehensive first aid kit with items bought individually at much greater cost.

Housekeeper 1 will throw out all of your favourite books, board games and documentaries, and in their place purchase a single encyclopaedia and quiz book. Any member of the household who fails to enjoy the encyclopaedia and reach the required standard in the annual quiz, will be turned into a cat.

Housekeeper 2 is much like Housekeeper 1, but will on occasion at least remember to feed the cat.

You have no choice but to employ one of the two housekeepers.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I shall probably vote Labour at the next election.