Nobody inside the organization will give my ideas much time. And the various journals publishing on the humanitarian front prefer researched articles, complete with facts and other annoyances. There doesn’t seem to be a home for opinion, both unadulterated and dressed up as some sort of fact, especially if it runs contrary to the mainstream currents of aid discourse. So I’ve been meaning to put some ideas out there for quite some time.
DISCLAIMER(S). I’ve been working with MSF since 1999 and am now the director of MSF’s UK office, so there might be an expectation that the ideas contained in this blog are somehow related to the positions of the organization. Please don’t get me in trouble by making such an assumption. These are my ideas, not MSF’s. Well-nourished by my experience in MSF and well-constrained by the amount of time I am able to spend reading anything interesting (i.e., not my inbox), not to mention the difficulty of mounting one of those 23-mission-aid worker blogs when I sit behind a desk and only occasionally manage to escape to the field, where I deliver my George Bush “Mission Accomplished” impression and then return home.
CREDENTIALS. As you’ve guessed, I’m not one of those 23-mission aid nomads, having been stuck in MSF offices for the better part of the last nine years. I have managed to catch malaria, worms, and at least 10 bouts of amoebic dysentery (mostly, though, in my youth as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso). I’ve eaten lots of icky stuff that was not served in the Dutch office’s canteen. I’ve stepped foot twice in Darfur and have been yelled at by Sudanese officials. Several aid industry big wigs once agreed with a point I made at a conference. I shook hands with Pastor Ntoumi deep in the jungle of Pool Province. That sums it up. Prior to aid work my life included bartending in NYC, civil rights litigation in New Orleans, and a lot of frisbee throwing and backgammon in New Haven. I am now based in London, occasionally dabble in writing fiction, and have a wonderful daughter.
Thanks for reading.