NGO Drivel

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Stuff

The fat man has now been to quite a number of NGO meetings. The most recent one was chaired by UNICEF, with representatives from UNESCO, OCHA and UNWRA. This is the kind of drivel his is forced to endure:

On behalf of UNICEF, I’d like to thank you for coming to this meeting. If you look at your handouts (200 unnecessary pages) you will see that we are proposing a new inter-cluster response framework to follow up on the draft work plan template identifying the core issues raised by the focus group as response activators for the implementation of the training toolkit – adapted to context, of course. I suggest that we prioritize our action plan activities as a working group and review the coordination mechanism of the response matrix to help develop a chronic crisis contingency strategy based on psychosocial indicators and agency capacity. The focal point of our task force is the drafting of an initial policy protocol which is in line with accountability standards and codes of conduct. I’m happy to say that the Geneva cluster is giving us a lot of support right now. Er, yes, Doctor Shusinski?



Does this actually mean anything? Maybe it does, and my poor brain, damaged by a lifetime of booze, is unable to grasp it. But given the astonishing stupidity of most  salaried professionals, I doubt that.

On a less depressing note, I was given a tour of a spectacular institution the other day – the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, right here in Gaza City. It is housed in an amazing building and was built with funds which appear to have been contributed by every nation under the sun, including a few of the yellow ones.

The services they provide are really cutting edge – an audiology clinic, speech-language pathology clinic, sign language training and vocational training for adults (carpentry, ceramics and weaving workshops), and full schooling for 270 deaf children.

I was shown around the school and into a number of classrooms and to the kindergarten playground. It was quite surreal – little kids running around everywhere at top speed and beaming from ear to ear and gawping at the fat man’s bulk, but all of them absolutely silent. Really a very pleasant experience.

I was then shown the room in which parents were supposed to be trained to interact with their deaf kids. The room was intended to resemble a family apartment, presumably so that the young children would feel at home in a familiar setting. And it does resemble an apartment – if you happen to live in a penthouse on 5th Avenue. An open plan kitchen with bar stools surrounding the black granite kitchen counter, trendy designer furniture – I can’t imagine anything less likely to make impoverished deaf Gazan kids feel at home. And it didn’t look as if it had ever been used, probably for that reason. Still, there are limits to even the fat Doc’s negativity – it may be naive, but in a good way.

And, also on a positive note, I have been impressed by the psychologists whom I have accompanied on school visits. They are young and female and competent (and, luckily, mostly veiled). Whereas the individuals higher up in the organisation are all male and mostly self-important and incompetent. It pains me a bit, but then I join them and we sit around the office smoking endless cigarettes and ordering coffee from the very professional office waiter and delegating to the secretaries, and the pain subsides.


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