7 comments on “Shake Hands with the Devil- a Debrief

  1. Thanks for writing about this issue. I think it’s important for those of us working in Aid to not forget such atrocities and try to understand the context. I helped coordinate a relief response to the genocide and was horrified, baffled and angered by the circumstances of this event. The aid response was a sight to behold in its confusion and raised issues, which are still being puzzled over even now. What was especially interesting to me was how fast our collective memory eroded with the rapid turnover of aid workers in the country. After only six months I was considered to be a “veteran” of the crisis. Many new aid workers coming in were poorly oriented and tended to treat the situation as “business as usual”. I was glad to see Dallaire’s book published, but like you found it hard to pick up. I guess the magnitude of the suffering, criminality and complicity tempered my sense of what the so-called international community can accomplish when it comes to moving quickly and compassionately.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful reply and for sharing your own experiences Robert. I’ve seen that turnover/veteran effect myself, and it’s very troubling. Let’s face it, in this industry a year in one place is a long posting- but realistically it takes at least that long to start getting your head around a seriously complex context and the reality in the field. I’d like to think that the industry has improved at knowledge management and ensuring that critical analysis to help incoming staff understand complexities is underway. My experience is that as often as not, I have to gather my own information, do my own analysis, and run the risk of misunderstanding or repeating mistakes. I thank God that I never had to face Rwanda, but nonetheless it really is a worry, some of these holes and gaps.

  2. I don’t know if you remember that John visited the country some time later and met many victims who did survive and heard their stories. He suffered nightmares as a result of that trip for many months, the first and only time I have known him to do so.

  3. Pingback: No, Thanks: Any Aid Worker Answers the Question “Where Wouldn’t You Go”? (Daily Prompt) | WanderLust

  4. Pingback: 7 Reasons the United Nations is not going to Take Over the United States of America | WanderLust

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