This blog is my attempt to give you what I would have needed when I felt most disheartened. Both by the environment I was working in, but also by the aid community in general.
Many aid-workers do a tremendous job in difficult circumstances. The problem is that there are too many around who do not live up to the standards the organizations and the agencies have set for themselves. And sadly, that includes a large number of people in leading positions.
Blatantly breaching codes of conduct with no repercussions,
involvement in improper sexual affairs,
turning a blind eye to child labour and
a vendetta against an innocent national staff
are all on my list of experiences. And that was just a selection.
The more people I talk to, and the more stories I read about, the more I am convinced that this is a widespread problem. Even more worrying is the fact that so many seem to keep quiet about it.
All this misbehaviour leads to inefficiency. It creates a culture of distrust, permeated by short-sighted individualism and lack of accountability.
Many aid workers are afraid to speak up. Others have just adapted to their environment, and accepted the way it is.
In such a culture much energy is wasted. Time, energy and effort we should spend instead on the issues we are supposed to deal with.
We, the development and humanitarian aid workers, do not realize our impact potential when we say one thing to outsiders and act the opposite towards one another: preaching social equality and turning a blind eye to bribes; promoting gender equality and harassing female staff.
We cannot then expect to be perceived as sincere. As Mahatma Gandhi said:
One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole.
Imagine what we could achieve if we paid more attention to our own internal problems. And focused more, much more on being good role models and gaining the trust of those we are supposed to assist.
This blog is my small contribution to do something about that. A first step to deal with silenced issues is to face the monsters and start talking about them.