Saturday, 30 July 2011

Disasterjunkie jargonbuster 3 - Humanitarian reform

Hello readers! It's time for another round of jargon busting. Humanitarian reform has become quite a buzzword in aidspeak but what does this actually mean? Let's break this down into its constituent parts for a greater understanding. According to the Oxford online dictionary:

Humanitarian ....person or groups concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare

Reform ... cause (someone) to relinquish an immoral, criminal, or self-destructive lifestyle

So putting them together this means "causing a person or group concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare to relinquish immoral, criminal or self-destructive lifestyle". I detect a paradox there. Immoral, criminal or self-destructive humanitarians? Are there such things? Surely not! Our organisational codes of conduct keep us reigned in and tightly bound as the paragons of virtue we all like to promote, especially in front of the cameras, don't they?  After all, I mean sex, drugs and rock and roll are only ways to self-medicate in order to preserve one's sanity under extreme circumstances aren't they? 

Firstly, take emergency sex for example, "ooohh yes please I hear you cry", "oh, if only I had the opportunity, another sighs" as common mitigation measure to reduce stress.  Here are some case studies from the field

Be aware of the risks and if you have to do it, practice safe sex. No I don't think you understand...neither...

nor a quickie during an evacuation, while throwing yourself onto your team mate to avoid a hail of bullets overhead. 

And secondly take drugs, for example, er, no I don't mean "go take drugs" because that would be immoral and criminal wouldn't it? Well apart from things like your doctor prescribes for you like anti-malarials or those nasty tasting pills that you can't take with alcohol to flush out intestinal parasites (I'm sure you've had those).  The side effects could take you places where you don't need recreational drugs. I mean I've heard that lariam can be trippy (and far from recreational) as many years ago a colleague of mine took it and flipped out for 6 weeks in a war zone......not pretty. One has to be careful of side effects. Seek the advice of your  doctor. Your local team of doctors without no, cough, borders, that's it, doctors without borders should be able to assist. 

And lastly rock n roll. Raise your hand if you've been to an NGO party and survived? You must have survived to be here reading this blog, but anyway. Remember those heady nights, a frenzied writhing and gyrating to crackly transistor radio/beatboxes under the moon and stars or in a godforsaken sweaty shack somewhere in the middle of nowhere until dawn comes up? Yes I can see it all now, while peering through the fog of too many deadly local fags lit up all at once (fags = ciggies, just in case you were wondering), hanging from the lips of fellow aidworkers, their hands thrust high clutching at bottles of some dubious and lethal brew masquerading as local light beer, bodies a riot of colour in oversized African print shirts or de-rigeur ripped NGO-bossed T-shirts...ahh happy daze.  

So what is the solution? How does one reform a humanitarian? It would be no mean feat.  Are these examples illustrations of an immoral, criminal or self-destructive lifestyle or simply coping strategies? You decide!

1 comment:

  1. ...criminal and self destructive lifestyle - how great would it be if we could not think of a myriad of examples. UN or INGO.

    As for life style sex, drugs and rock and roll are no cure for stress busting if it means being stoned at three in the morning. The result is only increased stress, friction in the work place and earlier burn out.

    Humanitarian reform - it would be great to see greater real coordination and a whole lot less self pampering and inter agency bickering. But hey I am just the security geek...