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February 10, 2014 7:41 PM   Subscribe

The new TV show "The Samaritans" is a mockumentary inspired by The Office about the perils – and pleasures – of the “NGO world”. Created by a Kenya-based production company, it chronicles the work of Aid for Aid – an NGO that, in the words of its creator, “does nothing.” Over at Warscape, some wry advice for a "development officer of a not-for-profit yearning for a celebrity of your very own" after Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern flubbed her "African adventure," mixing up Dakar with Darfur. “We have to break in our new celebrities slowly,” confides Sarah Wilson, a World Vision representative who is chaperoning McGovern on the trip. “There will be lots of breaks so she doesn’t get overloaded.” (previously) (previouslier) (more previouslier)
posted by spamandkimchi (19 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
i'll just be over here laughing through my tears. /third-worlder NGO worker
posted by cendawanita at 9:10 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Dakar, Darfur, Decatur -- it could happen to anyone!

With two master’s degrees from the U.S. and an internship to his name, why shouldn’t he be running the organization?

I have met this dude. Several times.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:16 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


To get money, you need donors, indeed. At heart, here, the problem is not the celebrities, some of whom are a bit dim and others of whom are just busy and distracted. The problem is basically the 1%, the haves of the world, the ones who refuse to get their hands even as dirty as the celebrities do, for whom charitable giving is basically one part tax avoidance and one part gladiatorial tournament watching. This is the real Hunger Games. Pit them against each other, force them to sacrifice all good sense, use resources that could actually feed the hungry and give medicine to the sick to produce ever shinier and more palatable commercials. The careers mostly keep winning and that allows them to keep getting the resources to keep winning.
posted by Sequence at 9:55 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


This sounds like an interesting show. So where can I watch it?
posted by kafziel at 10:25 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Looks like it has potential, although I hope they spring for closed captioning. I've a feeling I'll miss a lot of good bits without it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:47 PM on February 10


On the show's website (AidforAid.org) they say the following about their pilot episode (a short clip is available to watch):
We are working towards making the full episode available for rent. If you would like to know more please get in touch with us through our contact page
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:53 PM on February 10


Wait, is it the 1% or the celebrities who are enjoying gladiatorial combat?
posted by thelonius at 11:44 PM on February 10


Just saw this article via @tmsruge this morning... its such a fit. Here's another previously on that topic.

If you can effect positive change, even for 5 people, without free money, then there's a sustainable model to enable and support further. Till then, its hand waving.


waits for all kinds of time to offer his insights
posted by infini at 4:02 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I had this same idea once, but never took it past some notes on a piece of paper. It looks good, but I hope they make it more scathingly funny than just the usual office politics jokes.
posted by fungible at 4:57 AM on February 11


With two master’s degrees from the U.S. and an internship to his name, why shouldn’t he be running the organization?

I have met this dude. Several times.


The best part of him is that in two years he'll be running a hedge fund back in New York and his only connection back to the NGO will be when he uses it to pick up chicks. Worse is the worthless ex-hippie that will just never fucking ever go away!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:28 AM on February 11


this looks interesting, I look forward to watching it
posted by rebent at 6:15 AM on February 11


The best part of him is that in two years he'll be running a hedge fund back in New York and his only connection back to the NGO will be when he uses it to pick up chicks.

...or, more critically, his social media "brand."


[This should also be an Onion article about a gap year before B-school, but isn't, sadly.]
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:34 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Oh god the responses to that Mindy article:
As an African man who became a full professor in an American university in just two weeks, I appreciate Mindy's struggle. I was visiting the University of ** when I asked a young man named Josh how many African professors there were. Josh, who was a prince in his own suburb in New Jersey, exclaimed: "None, of course. It would be too hard for you Africans." We must change this, I insisted, and asked what I had to do to become a full professor. "You must shotgun a six-pack and toke on a bong," he said. "But you can't do that. You are too weak and will be wasted in no time." I told my parents I was being sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education to become a professor, then I went to Josh's dorm room, where I spotted a six-pack. I immediately shotgunned every beer. "Give me a bong now," I said, amazed at my own audacity. He did so, shocked by my perseverance. I managed to hold in my coughs, although my lungs were bursting. Later I took part in the Saturday night ritual where I danced the "Full Professor Dance". This is why I sympathise with Mindy and applaud her remarkable book. I look forward to spearing lions with her on the Serengeti soon.
posted by migurski at 6:52 AM on February 11 [18 favorites]


Hang on, the charity paid Elizabeth McGovern to be an Ambassador?

Boy, sometimes I am just not cynical enough. How much did Bob Geldof get?
posted by fistynuts at 8:52 AM on February 11


Netflix should pick-up this up -- it would be great to see more smart, interesting shows from around the world.
posted by zeikka at 10:07 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


To get money, you need donors, indeed. At heart, here, the problem is not the celebrities, some of whom are a bit dim and others of whom are just busy and distracted.

The problem is the extent to which bullshit like this acts as the feel-good white savior poverty circus
Wilson describes it as “more Christian than Christian Aid” ... a spokesman confirmed that it sometimes uses charity funds to set up Christian education courses for those of other faiths

...

In addition, World Vision has paid her band £28,000 to fund the recording of their latest album and a UK tour, in return for which they have agreed to promote the charity. Without this money, McGovern says, her band would “never survive”.
You stick some poor African girl's face in an ad, get people to donate money, spend the money paying for a celebrity to publish some charity-promoting music and build a school teaching the kid about Jesus. You've fixed nothing and you've manipulated the wealthy western public into feeling like they're helping without having any understanding or effect on structural problems and solutions, most of the money just flowing around in a marketing mobius strip.
posted by crayz at 10:08 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


The problem is the extent to which bullshit like this acts as the feel-good white savior poverty circus

Hmmm, I think that does a disservice to World Vision. I would note - despite the writer's criticisms - that said journo was almost certainly paid, by World Vision to go on that trip; they are no less part of the machine/largesse than McGovern.

I also think it was a little disappointing the writer apparently made no effort to investigate World Vision and the projects they implement than what was immediately visible on the trip. The information is easily accessible, and he could very easily have clarified exactly how much WV spend on marketing as opposed to program budget etc (tl;dr, World Vision are actually quite good in this regard).

Again, the proselytising angle is not covered fully. WV are a Christian org, no doubt about it, and they are too Christian for my aid dollars. However. They are first and foremost an aid agency, and that WV staffer is frankly a fucking idiot for intimating otherwise. It is a huge disservice to the work they do to position them alongside "missionary" charities. They are one of the biggest, and most sophisticated aid agencies in the world. Top ten definitely, possibly top five.

Secondly, conversions or no, it's important to remember that most of their funding does not go into religious activities so much as wells, schools etc, and that they are often operating in areas where most of the population is already Christian, and usually vehemently so.

This is not to say they don't have a fair share of staffers that do believe - and act - like WV is a missionary org, nor that conversions etc aren't attempted/carried out (that's why I give my aid money to other, explicitly secular orgs). However the article is honestly nearly as shallow as McGovern's understanding of the whole thing. Frankly I'm disgusted she took the money for her bullshit band; the narcissism of celebrities never fails to amaze.
posted by smoke at 4:51 PM on February 11


(I am referring to the Telegraph piece, the Warscapes piece was great).
posted by smoke at 4:54 PM on February 11


How much did Bob Geldof get?

A private equity fund.
posted by infini at 8:48 PM on February 11


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