Nobody inside the organization would 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 worked for  MSF from 1999 until last Friday (28 Feb 2014), including six years as the director of MSF’s UK office.  Any expectation that the ideas contained in this blog are somehow related to the positions of the organization is misplaced. These are my ideas, not MSF’s.  Well-nourished by my experience in MSF and constrained by the amount of time I am able to spend reading anything of interest (i.e., not my inbox), not to mention the competing with one of those 23-mission-aid-worker blogs when I sit behind a desk.

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 13 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.

Thanks for reading.

Marc DuBois

Contact via   humanicontrarian@gmail.com      or     @humanicontraria

19 thoughts on “About”

  1. ‘Nobody inside the organisation will give me ideas much time’?! Shame on you Marc, your ideas take up loads of my time!!

  2. I’ve just added your site to my “Aid Blogs I Check Daily” list. Just letting you know. Hope that’s okay with you.

  3. Marc,

    You are ABSOLUTELY a genius! Keep up the good work. Absolutely.

    I will make your blog a must read from now on.

  4. A fresh of breath air……..(you know what I mean). An antidote to the sanctimonious stuff we have to come out with in aid work and also a forward step on the steep path to understanding the ‘other’. Good work.

  5. Added you to my list of “places I like to visit, people I like to read”. Thanks for the updates on where to get a haircut (or not). Always great to hear what you have to say, and the fiction is good. Keep writing!

  6. Very interesting take aid. More interesting is that “third world” leaders have learnt well from their colonisers and not just on the PR front. But the danger of this game is that communities that mobilised to overthrow the colonisers still have as a reference point the power of solidarity to influence change. [From the eternal optimist].

  7. I am glad that there is a voice like yours. On my travels I met many young people who said they were volunteers
    or aid workers or working for making poverty disappear But after spending some time with them their real personalities come out. They are racist and hateful people. Just bored in their own country and wants drugs and more drugs . It is all big joke and scam .I am discussed with these people and whomever is sending them to other countries. Volunteer for what? So humiliating Why a south american would need a german teenager for volunteering? .Dont they know how to live in their own environment ?.It is scam and it is free holiday for cold hearth-ed bullies.

    1. Thanks for the comment Elvan. It’s easy to become cynical, but there are plenty of good people working in the aid world. That makes it even harder to understand why aid so often seems neo-colonial in nature or attitude. I don’t have answers, but that’s the point of trying to launch the discussion.

  8. Marc,
    I’m hoping you will remember me, you and I knew each other in Burkina Faso back in the day. As I recall, you were in the training group before me, together with the group that Lee Schaber was in. You and I met in Seattle after we returned too, I remember the visit well. On a lark I googled your name and see that you have done quite well in your post BF life. I work as a wheat breeder, still trying to increase global food production (one bushel at a time), and was as positively affected by my PC-BF experience as you seem to have been. Drop me a line if you get a chance, you can find me at: http://wheat.colostate.edu/CSUWheatBreeding/haley.html.

    Best regards,
    Scott Haley
    RPCV Burkina Faso 1983-85

  9. Hi Marc,

    I appreciate the approach you are taking to blogging about aid/development. Is there an email I can reach you on? I would love to have you write a guest post for whydev.org. What do you think? You have my email.


  10. I am now totally obsessed with your blogs. I used to live in Venezuela and I used to volunteer inside of the dumps in Caracas, the capital. There are always many kinds of volunteers, some of us, did it for humanitarian purposes, other for money and some others for reputation and kudos. I still volunteer on my travels if I can. Now I live in New Haven, CT.

  11. Hi there,

    Please excuse me barging in on your blog. I am trawling for kindred spirits with a similar objective to mine, which is to provide handcarts to those who most need them.

    Many people in many lands, live in drudgery and poverty, spending many hours each day walking long distances, searching for essential things like water, firewood and food, to carry home using their heads, hands and backs, because they have no wheeled transport for carrying their loads.

    I am sure the lives of these people would be greatly improved if they had handcarts.
    Handcarts increase mobility, and save precious time and energy. Their benefits include –
    Better able to carry heavy loads, further and faster, with less effort.
    Improved health, with less mental stress and physical strain.
    Greater freedom for women and girls.
    Better attendance of schools and medical clinics.
    Spending less time away from home.
    Greater security for children, livestock and property.
    Earning money hiring out carts, and taking produce to market.
    Setting up mobile stalls for selling food and garden produce.
    Social and welfare improvements.
    More buildings and shelters.
    As time goes by, the benefits of using handcarts expand exponentially, turning basic subsistence into dynamic development for individuals, families, communities and nations alike.

    I realise that designing, making and distributing good quality handcarts to those who need them most, will be a prolonged, difficult and costly task, but I believe it can be done on a global basis, if dedicated caring individuals and relief organisations join forces to develop and action viable, agreeable and sustainable solutions to a problem that has compounded the effects of drudgery and poverty for far too long.

    What you think?
    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter, and any handcart associated intelligence .
    Do you think that the concept is valid?
    Would you support or participate in it?
    Do you know of any individual or organisation currently involved with providing handcarts?
    Would you like further details of the concept?
    Do you have any questions, that I haven’t thought of?

    Please show or forward this message to anyone you think may be interested in the concept of providing handcarts on a humanitarian basis.

    Many thanks

    Ed Austin

  12. Hi,

    I’d love to interview for a university assignment on humanitarian intervention – is there any way I can contact you?

  13. September 26, 2015
    Dear Marc
    Thank you for your blog site. Please take a moment to visit our website. ramusaorg.com

    Given you are residing in London, I was hoping you may reach out to an entrenched EU Bureaucracy to provide a waiver for our Emergency Refugee Aid expedition.
    We are seeking clearances for a contingency of physicians to provide volunteer assistance in the Greek Islands of Lesbos and Chios and Bodrum Turkey.

    I have breaking news for you to post entitled:

    As the Refugee Crisis Engulfs the European Union; Draconian Laws Bar Remote Area Medical’s ™ Volunteer Doctors from Providing Disaster Relief and Emergency Aid

    “A rubber stamp may prove to be more powerful than triage and bandages,” says JC Gomez, Isolux Corsan North America’s Environmental, Health and Safety Director and RAM Volunteer

    Thank you kindly for your attention to this urgent matter.

    Cristiane Roget
    PR World Media

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