Monday, October 20, 2008

Aid ... comes in all shapes & forms ... or does it?

Africa needs assistance ...

There's various ideologies; from the UN's various departments such as down to the small NGO's such as the one in Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire; another in Cameroon
or this one in Ghana . Added to all these and many others, there's a village I know in Guinea Bissau, a gorgeous spot right on the beach. They didn't have access to the outside world for 10months due to an Oxfam truck with 10tons of rice that fell into a river & broke the bridge & their lifeline as a consquence; that village needs assistance in many forms!

However, having spent the last two weeks ranting about a certain airlines' lack of assistance in getting my much needed humanitarian goods to Abidjan with me in a few weeks, I've decided to rant on-line especially having seen a piece from the guys on

There's too much money out there not being channelled correctly!!!

Why is it that Royal Air Babouche (amongst others) are refusing to take these much needed supplies? They've admitted to me that they USED TO allow humanitarian goods to travel with passengers. I've been told to cough up 15euros per kilo ... I pointed out I do not have the resources of a bank (& most banks lately seem to have been bailed out by their governments anyway - I'm sure Sarko won't do that for my excess luggage bill).

Why is it that there are thousands of 'organisations' out there that GAP year kiddies parents can PAY to send them to a foreign land to 'voluneteer'. Do they help out??? I somehow doubt it ...

Why then is money flowing to send un-needed adolescents to 'do good' in countries that could get the money in other forms; send your kids there to see what's happening but FOR GOD SAKES don't pay these unscrupulous 'organisations' to put them to work ... send your money elsewhere to a smaller NGO that needs the money you were thinking of paying Mr Fat Cat.

Just look at this 'google' list all I did was tap in 'volunteer africa' and thousands of pay-to-volunteer organisations were listed!

It's full of 'volunteer' opportunities - 900 euros screamed out at me from one site to 'secure your place' - EXCLUDING flights ... There's even a 'lo-cost' volunteering option - Ryanair's Mr O'Leary will be in on the act soon ... lo-cost flights, no frills with lo-cost volunteering - I ask you!!! What is the world coming to?!!!

So if anyone wants to send me some cash to pay RAM to fly my 'excessive' supplies to - I'd gladly accept it!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Guinea's 50 years of Independance

I had to laugh when I saw via the press the message sent from North Korea's Kim to Guinea's President Lansana Conte ...

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, Monday sent a message of greetings to Lansana Conte, President of Guinea, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its independence.

Kim in the message noted that over the past five decades since the independence of the country the Guinean people have achieved great successes in the struggle for the national unity and the building of a new society, and the friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK and Guinea have steadily grown stronger in the interests of the peoples of the two countries.

Kim expressed belief that the good relations between the two countries would further expand and develop in various fields in the future, too, and sincerely wished the president good health and happiness and the Guinean people greater progress and prosperity.

And what 'great successes' have the Guineans had from their two presidents in the last 50years???

Not much, very little in fact ...

Toure ruled with an iron fist & let what was left of the French legacy go to rack & ruin. Conte, the current ailing President is doing a good job of finishing the country off ... The people are being squeezed from every angle, small bribes at every military checkpoint, lack of food, massive inflation, no real utilities; even in the capital, Conakry.

A country filled with natural resources which at this stage are being plundered by the Chinese. A population, full of hope for the future who lost over 100 people on 23rd January 2007 in killings by the army ordered by the President.

When I crossed the border in December 2006, I came from Guinea Bissau. . The few kilometres between the two countries gave a stark contrast in the character of the people I got to know whilst on a truck for two days carrying me & 45 Guineans. The Guineans of Guinee Conakry were so friendly & hospitable; they have very little, far poorer than some of their neighbours such as Senegal but so much more open & welcoming.

Leaving the country was hard for me, mentally & physically - the petrol strike had already taken grip. What was even harder was hearing the news of the strikes & killings that went on just after I'd left; knowing that those that were on the truck with me would be somewhere in Guinea, most of them were heading for Conakry after Boke.

I hope that Guinea's next 50years will be easier after the last 50. Conte won't be around forever & if the corruption can be capped; maybe they'll have it a bit easier .....

... but this is Africa where corruption is widespread ...

Off again in 7 weeks & counting

So, despite the credit crunch, the rise & fall of oil prices & the general doom & gloom in Europe, I'm off to Cote d'Ivoire again ...

Thrilled to be returning, I'm flying again with Royal Air Maroc who seemingly doesn't want to help it's neighbours after my request for an extra luggage allowance to take the endless kilos of clothes, shoes, glasses & medical equipment with me. I've decided to drive most of the stuff that's filling up my sitting room to a garage in Montpellier which has some space; a container will be leaving in a few months for Togo & hopefully take the rest to - the orphanage in Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire, overland.