Monday, August 11, 2008

There's Something About Rwanda...

Read THIS latest report from Rob Halfon in Rwanda and then tell me his trip was just a publicity stunt. I dare you. He concludes by saying...
Some people have said, what on earth can one do in just two weeks in Rwanda? Well, they have a point. Perhaps what we did was just a drop in the Ocean. But a drop is a drop nonetheless and is better than nothing at all.

Moreover as Andrew Mitchell, who organised the whole of Project Umubano said much more powerfully: "it is true it was only two weeks, but in those two weeks we did the maximum possible".

There is something about Rwanda that gets into your system and the warm smiles and optimism of the people are infectious.

Rob's right. I felt the same way last year.

10 comments:

mutleythedog said...

Well done Rob - a great bloke by the way...

Anonymous said...

So it was just a publicity stunt then.

The amount of worthwhile work that can be done in two weeks is negligible. Just a token amount.

If, on their return, they campaigned full-time for aid and support for the Rwandans then it might have been worthwhile.

Andy C said...

I know Rob personally and it would have taken a lot of effort to make this trip.

Call it what you like, I doubt he cares, but to call it a publicity stunt shows how little you know about the man or what he cares about or believes in.

Mathew Dear said...

Africa as a whole has a way of getting into your blood. Ethiopia will always be a part of me.

Optimism is exactly the right word - found even in the most heart-rending of circumstances. 100 years from now I've no doubt that things will be quite different, aid or no aid. It is the human spirit, its propensity for good, which will win through and underpin the advancement of this remarkable continent.

But that doesn't abnegate our responsibility to help now (rather, it reinforces it - the children of today can't wait 100 years to have a fulfilling, healthy, hopeful childhood.)

Anonymous said...

obviously a publicity stunt else you would have been back this year instead of a holiday in the usa!!

hypocrytical!

Charity begins at home, where are the tories in the run down inner cities?

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 10.28. Absolute rubbish, as you would know if you had been there last year.

Anonymous 10.58. Do you know something I don't? I am not going on holiday to the USA. I was going to the Republican Convention but now can't. If I get three days in Torquay I will be lucky.

I would love to have gone back to Rwanda and seriously considered it but I couldn't do it because of my work.

Newmania said...

.... the warm smiles and optimism of the people are infectious......

Reminds me of Boris Johnson's watermelon flavoured pastiche of a 1950s Common wealth tour …I think Iain that while you may not like to admit that this trip was part of the Cameron re-branding everyone other sentient life form in the galaxy knows it was ,so you might be taken a bit more seriously if you start from an admission this was part of the logic . I `m not sure that makes it a bad thing especially , at the time Cameron was not doing well and stood accused of being a smarmy ad man obsessed with gesture and without values . Brown meanwhile was being praised to the heavens for wearing Wellington boots , go figure, as they say. With this back-drop it was unanimously received as a PR exercise and a PR flop as well. I have always been an admirer of David Cameron but I put this trip and his poorly judged speech distancing himself from Margaret Thatcher (on the anniversary of 9.11) on the debit side of a superb performance overall .
You were disappointed with the reaction at the time , and I am not sure why people were quite so unpleasant about it(I wasn`t).Perhaps because the suggestion that this exercise was conceived as a spontaneous outpouring of empathy with Rwandans is an insult to people’s intelligence ? I think the desire to claim some of the 'bleeding heart', territory ,to use shorthand, is probably forgivable , but, if it was to carry Conservative, sick of being lectured by nauseating self righteous Liberals, it needed to be framed with some respect for the audience .
About the fate of Rwandans , well if I really cared I d do something about and I don’t ., I doubt you would sacrifice a new Audi to make it all go away and the truth is if we all did it would help no--one .

Anonymous said...

It is patronising twaddle. Charity like this makes no difference. Even the money on the air fares could have been better used. Social change must happen through government and laws. Tory plans to address poverty through charities and religious groups is nonsense.

Andy C said...

Iain, as the saying goes - 'you're f***ed if you do and you're f***ed if you don't.'

Matthew Dear said...

On one level I agree that the money spent on air fares could be better used. And maybe we are patronising. I'm sure that there are people in Rwanda who can both speak English, and teach it more than capably. Of course, development is best when done by the people - Africans have brains in abundance and don't need white people to tell them what they need.

But that misses the point. The world is smaller than ever before, and yet ever more atomised. In my experience, the message you carry when you travel to meet people who are trying to help themselves - when you take the trouble to demonstrate that you care, causes people to "believe" (to coin an Obamaism) and to redouble their efforts.

The people I met in Ethiopia couldn't understand why I would travel thousands of miles just to meet them and see how they were getting along. They couldn't believe that the privilege really was all mine, nor comprehend just how easy it was for me to get on a plane and stay in a nice hotel for a few weeks. But it made them feel loved. I don't care how wet that sounds, the value of love is immeasurable, and treated horribly dismissively in our society. But not in Africa.