Development course … week 1


Over the week I am going to describe the course content and use this space to reflect on the impact it has on my thinking and hopefully at the end of the sessions I will have come to an informed position on ‘development’ . Twenty eight persons who I will come to know better were welcomed to Catherine House by Joe, Anne and Celia the course presenters.
The first session was setting the scene by introducing a framework and the vocabulary to talk about ‘Development ‘ . The framework being:

1. From what – what is the problem?

2. To what– what is the goal?

3. By what – how are we going to get from one to the other.

The problem being poverty, but an interesting distinction was made between absolute poverty were people lack life basic income/resources to sustain life and relative poverty, were income/resources are related to the average and people are not able to participate fully in accepted daily life.  Though assumption laden, particuarly the second definition, I found them helpful as they are less clumsy than what I had previously used.
So having established poverty as the problem, and the goal being to alleviate poverty, we were then introduced to a range of perspectives on how to move to the goal. This is very much tied up with how one views the causes of poverty.

But that is for the next post. As always any thoughts you have that would help the thinking would be warmly received.

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Feeling safe..keeping safe in Rio

It occurred to me that the previous post might alarm volunteers so I checked the evaluations sheets that Georgina and Will completed for their response to the question.
Did you feel safe at the convent?

Volunteers Georgina and Will returned August 2011

Georgina I always felt safe at the convent because of the 24 hour doorman and the fact that we had our own set of keys to our own volunteer house, I never felt my belongings were at risk.
Will Very much so, the 24 hour security guard and recent increase in police presence around the area meant that safety was never really an issue.

The advice we offer to volunteers is the same as for visiting any large city, but we especially advise volunteers not to enter the favelas without seeking and strictly adhering to the advice of Beth and the monitors.

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Ignorance and complacency…

During the summer months I lost touch with the news in and around Santa Teresa; an ignorance which led to a cosy sense of complacency! Therefore it was a shock to read Beth’s report, especially as I thought that the government led decriminalization programme, in February, had brought peace and stability to the district.

“About life in the slums and drug trafficking, Santa Teresa was this week in the headlines. The children had already told me that the police, the UPP (police pacification), were corrupting and receiving money from drug dealers for everything to return to business as usual. The criminals were already walking back armed and continued being the law in the community. I confess that this news made me very sad and discouraged because we were all hoping that things really improve.This week, because of a complaint of residents, police officers were caught red-handed with the money they received per month from bandits. But there was shooting, and since then the police presence in communities around to be intense. Today many children wanted to tell about these events. They are worried and talking is always good for them.”

Beth’s report has reminded me how important the Living & Learning programme is to the children and refocused me on the importance of telling their story and building a community to partner and support them.

Read a fuller report in the Rio Times

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Pay increase for the monitors

A few day ago I reported that the Living and Learning Programme had received  some funding;  a result of Michael Norton’s visit earlier in the year. I could hardly  wait to report news from Beth that the grant has enabled a slight increase in the salaries for the monitors.

Fabiana, Wellington and Monica do a fantastic job, those who visit the programme never fail to remark on their dedication.The plain fact is that the programme only remains open because they share so much from the little they themselves have.

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Raising funds … the easy way!

I wrote some time earlier about ‘green letter’ days. Well today was a ‘gingham letter’ day, but I am leaving you to work out why it might be so named, but not before I remind you of a really ‘easy’ way to help us to raise money for the children in the Living & Learning Programme.
It costs you absolutely nothing, you shop as usual on your favourite on-line shopping sites and the retailers make a donation to the charity.

Why not get get started now…. simply click on the Shop Online? insert to the right of this post and follow the step by step registering process.

Oh and when you have worked out why a ‘gingham letter’ day drop your answer into a comment.

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