Apart from the fact that I was awfully late (thanks to our lovely and always punctual [not] Stagecoach!) I really enjoyed ActionAid's blogger event this week. I am really happy when people invite me AS A BLOGGER and treat me this way - working in this industry makes being a genuine blogger pretty difficult and we are often excluded from meetups. Not only that the event was inclusive, it was also really well planned, useful and inspiring! It made me realise again how difficult it is to help and how complex development issues can be.
It became apparent when I picked up a note from Alexander Graham's presentation on his visit to Myanmar:
As he later explained it was not exactly what he meant and I have to be honest it is not the argument here. I was actually more interested in both points mentioned above, regardless of their author.
You see there are many people thinking that feeling good about helping is not enough, others (usually more experienced in development issues) state that feeding aid does not do developing countries any favours and that we should first look at roots of problems and tackle long term problems. I personally think that as long as we get involved at ANY stage or level of support towards regions and people that most certainly need our help, it's all OK. For some, the recent Behonce video might look cheesy, for others it is actually very inspiring! Does it really matter? As long as it moves at least one person to change and help - that's all fine. I spend hours in events and conferences about the value of clicktivism yet really some people can only help by sharing news on-line, not so much by helping financially or on the ground. Is that really bad? Some of us will work in the field, spend our working hours supporting nonprofits or investigating better and better processes to take the development to the next level. But we cannot all be experts. We cannot all make a difference.
We can all find our own way to help though. That IS important. That is why am so happy that nonprofits like ActionAid UK reach out to bloggers for support. We have spent three hours discussing issues in one of the ActionAid locations - Myanmar:
To help raise awareness of this brand new programme we will be launching the UK’s first nationwide celebration of child sponsorship on the 12 to 18 November.The money raised from child sponsorship helps with the basic needs that we all deserve:EducationLess than 50% of children have access to formal education and of those enrolled, many drop out before their third year.The reasons for major problems in education is due to:
- A lack of schools
- The government assigns teachers in each village, but the villages are facing a short supply of teaching tools, space, and even teachers.
- Once the teachers are appointed sometimes they can’t actually get to the schools.
- Parents are often unable to afford the uniforms and books for their children.
- Pre-school activities are not available
- When children’s parents have to go out to work the oldest child (be that a boy or a girl) then has to stay at home to look after the younger children.
- Children in the areas we work in are usually absent from the school due to transportation difficulty to commute during the rainy seasonWaterVillagers get sufficient water but still there is a shortage of water in summer and the water quality is poor. In the project area villages get water (both domestic and drinking water) from wells, stream water, ponds, pumps, and collecting rain water in rainy season.BabiesIn one of the areas we work 95% of the babies are born at home due to a lack of transportation and very few health centres. The average family size is 5-7 with 3-5 children. Access to reproductive health services is very limited with a consequent high maternal mortality rate.
We have also talked about SEO for our blogs which I think is pretty useful for bloggers too!
And finally we have sat down and brainstormed around ideas for ActionAid's work with bloggers. I am really happy to see that the ideas placed on the table were taken seriously. I am looking forward to taking part in some of them in the upcoming months!
Thank you once again to the organisers and speakers. It was time well spent!