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June 22, 2011 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like. (via)
posted by vidur (20 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Unable to escape shitty and nonfinctional flipboardesque iPad wordpress theme, so I don't know if I can complain about this being unpleasantly snarky or if it is lighthearted and sarcastic.
posted by silby at 7:59 PM on June 22, 2011


shitty and nonfunctional
posted by silby at 8:01 PM on June 22, 2011


UN TV is like a politically correct, international Wayne’s World.

The webcast definitely has that public access cable feel to it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:02 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unable to escape shitty and nonfinctional flipboardesque iPad wordpress theme, so I don't know if I can complain about this being unpleasantly snarky or if it is lighthearted and sarcastic.

Sorry about that. There is an RSS feed. And this is a quote from their "about" page:
Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like is an ongoing series of sometimes satirical, sometimes ironic, usually humorous (but sometimes dead serious), always honest vignettes of the humanitarian aid industry from the inside. Sometimes we want to complain about one of the many ills of the Aid System. Other times we celebrate that same system. Sometimes we expose odd behaviors we recognize in ourselves. Sometimes we call out things we see other Expat Aid Workers doing that we find humorous or offensive. Sometimes we attempt to impress you with our erudition as we explicate the subtle nuances of ethics and morality where cultures and world views collide. Sometimes we will be harsh (it’s a harsh world out there). Sometimes we try to set the record straight. Sometimes all we want is to one-up you with a story of how we’ve suffered in the field.

We are aid workers. We are expats. This is the stuff we like.
posted by vidur at 8:11 PM on June 22, 2011


One of the best books about subsaharan Africa was written by Paul Theroux. (By any measure, one of the best travel writers ever.) Dark Star Safari. He did not flinch - much - at taking a jeep ride through bandit territory. He is often reviled for his cynicism, but, as they say, it's hard to be too cynical these days.

Theroux was a Peace Corps worker decades ago, and was sad to see the decrepitude of his former school. He criticizes the Africans for not doing more to help, instead of going to the capitals for easy (easier) money. But he reserves especial revulsion for the aid workers (probably .02% of his book, but, still...). He is just one of many to deride the complicated effects of foreign aid workers to Africa, especially in regard to local sustainabilty. This issue will someday get a more comprehensive FPP. (Well, I'm sure it has...but another one couldn't hurt.)

Theroux, by the way, expresses a sincere love for the African people and their attitudes toward life. I don't mean to say that he blames the Africans and the NGOs for Africa's present state. Although he did say that the NGO Land Rovers never gave him a lift.
posted by kozad at 8:19 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are those cartoons supposed to that difficult to decipher or are my skills at reading handwritten things just defunct?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:06 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


At first I was thinking "ramen, unemployment insurance, daytime TV" but then I realized it wasn't "Stuff ex-paid workers like."
posted by ShutterBun at 9:36 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, sorry vidur, but if I have to spend ten or eleven minutes unblocking potentially malicious scripts one by one just to get to the content of a page, then..

This is not stuff we like.
posted by Ahab at 10:28 PM on June 22, 2011


Yeah, sorry vidur, but if I have to spend ten or eleven minutes unblocking potentially malicious scripts one by one just to get to the content of a page, then..

This is not stuff we like.


Oh, I'm really sorry if that's what's happening to some readers. I certainly didn't intend to link to malicious stuff. I didn't encounter any such thing when I browsed the site on my desktop. In fact, I just opened it again in Firefox, IE and Chrome.. and it seems to be working fine for me in all 3. Google Reader is also able to load the RSS feed for full posts for me.
posted by vidur at 10:47 PM on June 22, 2011


Grappes? What the hell are grappes?
posted by ryanrs at 12:30 AM on June 23, 2011


This is edgy in the way the question "Working hard or hardly working" is edgy.
posted by doublehappy at 12:42 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kipling has a lot to answer for.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:48 AM on June 23, 2011


Vidur, my apologies for the grar. I'm not finding any particularly evil malware here.

It's just that in the process of unblocking scripts linking to wordpress.com, wp.com, gravatar.com, youtube.com, scorecardresearch.com, quantserve.com, si.edu, flickr.com, blogspot.com, clustrmaps.com, sitemeter.com, and s.stats.wordpress.com, there's always the sense that some of the off-site stuff being linked to could be malicious or compromised, and I've no quick and easy way of telling whether it is or not before I unblock it so as to get to the content I want to see and read.

So my gripe and kneejerk grar here was not with you, nor was it with the site you're linking to. It's a matter of more general frustration at what feels like an increasing tendency on the part of blogging services and bloggers to load their sites with unnecessary cruft that presents a potential risk.

The blue's probably not the place to express that. So, again, my apologies.
posted by Ahab at 1:58 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was confused why they chose AM/FM radio over shortwave until they mentioned this:

And radio serves a vital function on long distance car journeys within FM/AM range, saving the EAW from the dreaded “driver cassette tape”. (Listening to UB40’s “Red Red Wine” on a warped cassette tape has been proven to inspire homicidal tendencies in even the most altruistic EAW).

Of course, people here have solved the problem by making that song their ringtone. Or at least, a 25 second loop of it. And then not answering when people call them.
posted by solotoro at 2:21 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I get a hint that I have a feeling I know who is behind that first cartoon. That bit about Bellagio nudges the odd memory.

Still nice link, would have ignored it otherwise
posted by infini at 3:08 AM on June 23, 2011


Wow, the Slate article in the "via" is very pointed, for folks who want a less fun version of what's behind Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like:

Many Cambodian NGOs have followed a path familiar to observers in other parts of the world. After arriving to provide immediate relief, they gradually transform themselves into survival-focused grant-proposal-writing shops chasing dollars and holding PowerPoint-heavy workshops on "empowerment," "governance," "capacity-building," and other empty buzz phrases.

Meanwhile, a 2006 story in the Australian charged that a great deal of Australia's aid to Cambodia was wasted, because as much as 80 percent of it "goes straight out again in the form of high expatriate salary packages and running costs." The story said that country directors of prominent international charities in Cambodia received compensation packages worth as much as $250,000, which included large villas in Phnom Penh's upscale "NGO-ville" area, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and an assortment of other perks. A 2005 report by Action Aid said that in a single year, 700 top international consultants in Cambodia were paid an average of around $100,000. Their combined haul was roughly as much as the entire annual wage bill for 160,000 Cambodian civil servants. "Instead of transferring skills to Cambodian staff, their time is spent writing reports or doing jobs which they should be training local staff to carry out," the report said.

Lower-level NGO staffers, who often rotate through on short postings and spend a good chunk of their time partying, also do reasonably well.


The stuff about Wildlife Alliance staffers helping the government round up peasants so they can work on farms related to WA's ecotourism business is eyebrow-raising enough, but the bit at the end about the complicity of Fauna and Flora International with a resort developer in displacing 92 families is kinda scathing:

In 2008, a Hong Kong-based investment company called Lime Tree Capital was awarded a 99-year lease on an island near Sihanoukville called Koh Rung Sangleum, which it plans to fully develop with resorts and hotels. The only problem was that the island was home to a fishing village with 92 families, which was a nuisance for Lime Tree.

Lime Tree hired FFI as its eco-consultant, and the NGO dispatched several staffers to the island (where they spent a large part of their time snorkeling with a local diving company, sources told me). FFI apparently provided Lime Tree with a development-friendly report, because the company subsequently filed a master plan saying there was little biodiversity on the island and hence not much to conserve. According to a story in the Phnom Penh Post, FFI staffers made a later trip to the island and told villagers they would be restricted to a tiny 12.3-hectare piece of land and ordered them to immediately stop cutting down trees and constructing any new buildings.

Villagers complained to the local government about Lime Tree's plans, leading the company to rethink its initial proposal and offer a better deal to local people. Eighty villagers signed a document (with their thumbprints) demanding the removal of FFI's lead staffer on the project, saying he had lied to them about how much forest and village land would be conserved under Lime Tree's proposal....

Catterick declined to disclose how much FFI was paid by Lime Tree, saying it "cannot disclose contractual remuneration for our services without the agreement of the contractor."

posted by mediareport at 5:02 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Acceptable venues: Any hotel with "Mandarin Oriental New York" in the name.
posted by grobstein at 7:21 AM on June 23, 2011


This is awesome. Thanks so much for the post.
posted by cyndigo at 10:29 AM on June 23, 2011


Hand Relief International is a snarky parody blog that deals with some of the same excesses and incompetencies that the Slate article mentions.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:25 PM on June 23, 2011


Talking about poop

I'm not an aid worker, but I did spend a couple months studying in a 3rd world country last year - this is hilarious and true.
posted by Gordafarin at 9:20 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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