Sunday, August 15, 2010

Good News, Everyone

Ah yes, how long has it been since I started something with a Dr. Farnsworth from Futurama reference? My friend John came to visit for a few weeks in July and, among other things, partially resurrected my stock of pop culture references that had fallen into disuse. It was like long slumbering parts of my brain switching on again. Conversation, another perspective, agreement, disagreement. Our travels had their challenges (Ghana strikes again), were at times pretty hilarious, and captured the flavor of life here well. For those of you who know John, I would encourage you to ask him about the ants. I'm lucky to have people in my life who'll travel this damn far to hang out.

The good news in question is that while preparing the proposal I had posted about last time, Peace Corps unexpectedly offered me the funds directly through another program, so we're off the hook as far as fundraising goes. I had been pulling together kind of a photo essay to distribute as fundraising propoganda, and it's a decent summary of what we've accomplished in Asiri in the last couple years, so I'll post that later on, but we're cool on money, which is a relief. If you're still interested in contributing to a Peace Corps project here's the general link to the Peace Corps Partnership Program where volunteers solicit funds to implement various community projects. For a lot of reasons these seem like pretty dark times (yeah, I feel it over here too), but the only way out of this shit is through it, and so I'd encourage you to look at what PCVs are getting done out there in the world and recapture a little bit of optimism.

I've, unfortunately on recent reflection, become kind of a psychopath in my criticism of the international aid and development community, but if anything challenges that skepticism it's seeing the work that PCVs do in their towns. Lack of money is usually not the only issue for the projects we try and help tackle, but to quote a volunteer from the early days (in a book called the "Peace Corps Reader" published in '68 and reflecting on the first five years) "At a certain point you cannot create capital where none exists." I'm lucky to be able to score some USAID money, but there are plenty of volunteers who have to work harder for the cash to get things rolling. I have some insight into the difficulties they are facing, and reading about what they're doing is inspiring.

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