16 comments on “Handwashing, and other Epiphanies

  1. I like the post and your explanation of how it made you feel is important…but your language also indicates you realise that while a difference is being made, perhaps MORE of a difference could be made, doesn’t it? Big landcruisers and so on. How can we make all of this more cost-effective and more sustainable so we (Westerners) don’t need to go on endless field visits?

    • Thanks for your comment, I agree in terms of improving cost-effectiveness and sustainability. I’m under no illusions that the Western-dominated NGO landscape or Whites in Shining Armour have the answer to all the world’s development needs- it is simply the paradigm in which some of us work and try and make the best we can of. Part of the subtext you’re seeing reflected here is a general dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a sense of almost surprise when something seems to come out alright.

      If you want to see my general attitude towards field visits, please see my previous post (“Field Visit Bingo”) and you’ll see that I don’t hold them in a particularly sacred place… 🙂

      • Yes- there are clearly good people within the system, such as yourself, who are trying to do helpful things in useful ways. The problem, it seems, is that the system itself is dysfunctional and ineffective in many ways. The rhetoric is changing but the reality seems to be much the same, sadly. But keep up the good work!

    • Definitely Christy- changes a lot of things about how you look at the world. Generally for the better. 🙂

    • Yeah I fully agree. Look, I generally don’t find it hard at all to engage my emotions when I do visit field sites, in whatever capacity. I think it’s important to try and at least put yourself in the position of the people you are spending time with (which is when I most often find myself cringing on field visits, as I wonder just how stupid and out of place I must seem). To be honest I regularly find myself quite moved during many trips, and the most enjoyable and memorable parts of my career have generally been in the field (wait, there was that one day in the office, with all those emails and that paperwork…). In this particular instance though it was funny how a particular emotional reaction gave me a whole new spin on something I’d seen so many times before, and it was very refreshing.

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  3. it’s all about empathy and sympathy… i appreciate your efforts in saving kids from death.

    been a fan of your blog since 2007 and can’t wait for a new update from you. thanks for inspiring me and everyone else in the world!

  4. Really enjoyed this post! I think perhaps so often in doing aid work or discussing/critiquing aid work we are so ready to find fault, or recognise where projects are not succeeding enough, that these moments where you do realise a difference has been made (even if it is incomplete/ could be more) are pretty fantastic, and I’m really glad you wrote about it. Thanks!

  5. A superb reflection. No wonder you are so important to that special little someone in your life, just look how much you look out for her. :o)

    Thanks so much for sharing such a refreshing corner turn in your perspective. I like you.

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