Sunday, 10 May 2009

Emerging donors - Post 30

He took two Paracetamol tablets, and swallowed them with water. He felt tired, and it seemed like his fever was getting higher again. Kacper thought it was all strange! He would wake up, feeling really well, to have things getting worse around 4 o’clock and reach the peak of high temperature around 8 in the evening. This pattern has been going on for last 6 days - that is, since his arrival to Kenya. He decided, he would make an appointment for a consultation with a doctor tomorrow. Kacper has learnt a hard way that he shouldn’t ignore symptoms and signs that his body sends. ‘Yes, I need a doctor tomorrow’ he reassured himself.

Except his not-so-good physical state, things are actually working out great in Kenya. Most importantly, fighting in Chad seems to be easing, and Kacper hopes that tomorrow, he would be able to agree with Bernard about when he would travel to N’Djamena and Abeche. Kacper enjoyed his time in Kenya, but also wanted to get on with his job and finish his deployment in Chad, as soon as possible. It definitely was time to go back to Abeche!

Kacper’s weekend in Kenya was extremely social. He met with two of his best friends, who happened to be in Nairobi: Veronica, and Claire – both Canadian. Veronica works in South Sudan, where she manages the country programme for his previous organisation (this is also where they first met), whereas Claire is one of the former Globals from his present organisation. She quit her job some months ago, as she found a new opportunity with ECHO – European Commission Humanitarian Office (it was possible for her to do so, as she holds a British/EU passport). Claire’s duty station will be Nairobi, and she has just arrived to the country to start her induction to the new job.

When talking to Claire, naturally they discussed of new challenges in her ECHO’s work. They had some fascinating conversations on relations between funding agencies, and implementing organisations – like Kacper’s, on how their saw their respective agencies contributing to poverty reduction, or preparedness to catastrophes.

At one point, Claire started convincing Kacper to apply for a job with her new employer. ‘Your field experience, and your practical knowledge would be fantastic for ECHO to have’ she sounded really excited. ‘Needless to say that working for ECHO would be so good for your health… You wouldn’t need to be based in difficult places…’ she carried on. ‘Finally, once based in one place, you will be able to sort your love life out at last… and that is something that you cannot ignore, Kacper!’ she concluded and smiled at him. Claire knew him very well, and Kacper recognised she was right. She voiced what he had had in mind for quite some time now.

It wasn’t a first time, when Kacper wondered about working for donor agencies, or on fundraising projects. Growing wealth of citizens of Central European countries, combined with political changes that many of these places underwent, put Czech Republic, Slovenia, or Poland on a map of so called Emerging Donors, rather than aid recipients. This creates an interesting opportunity for many international humanitarian actors to fundraise in this part of Europe for their projects worldwide. However, as most people don’t perceive Central Europe, as a place of potential income, there is still a considerable mistrust in the idea - Kacper often noticed when he shares his opinions on this particular issue.

Kacper likes to think that the economical situation of the region, together with its relative lack of experience in international aid creates a golden opportunity, which he would like to turn into a project! Kacper would like helping some international agencies establishing themselves, say in Poland, so they could chip in to the growing resources there on one side, and make the societies of Central Europe more aware and educated about global poverty or humanitarian catastrophes on the other side. Kacper had a very egoistic agenda as well… As Claire pointed out, he was trying to find himself a new role, which would allow him use some of his experience, knowledge, and passion, as well as make his life a bit easier, when it comes to his physical limitations.

He is convinced that opening an office of an international humanitarian agency in Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Bratislava, or Budapest would not only be beneficial for the agency itself, but would trigger much needed discussions in Central Europe about the state of the world and its profound problems – something that he thought is still not done sufficiently. He hoped that presence of international humanitarian agencies would equip the citizens with tools and information, which they could then use for pressuring their own governments to take serious actions towards tackling important problems that the humanity face… ‘Problems that we people have responsibility to be aware of’ he often remarked.

In recent years, Kacper studied involvement of Central European societies in international affairs, many times. His findings and learning were fascinating, to say the least. For a first time in a history, countries like Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic or the Baltic States eventually became wealthy enough to be able to share their resources with people, who are less fortunate. It was a new situation for these societies, which often still look at themselves as ‘poor cousins’ of their Western European peers. Although, this perception is slowly changing, not yet many people realise that they are fortunate to live in societies, which are actually wealthy by world standards, and offer opportunities that 75% of citizens of the world don’t have any access to.

What was encouraging however, Kacper started meeting more and more ordinary people, celebrities, as well as politicians, who begin talking about Paying Back Time. ‘We used to receive so much help from many countries in the world throughout years… We used to receive aid that helped us to get through the toughest moments of our recent history, and help us transform Poland from being dirt poor, to a country of prosperity… Now it is time for us to start helping the others… It is a PAY BACK TIME’ Kacper often heard on Polish media. ‘People in Poland, or Slovakia are ready to be involved and to help… they just need to be given opportunities to do so!’ Kacper often eagerly concluded his conversations with his colleagues.

Although, Kacper is aware that questions of poverty are extremely complicated, and its eradication is complex, and solutions of one country may not be useful in another one, he is in the same time convinced that right governance, thoughtful investment, development of education systems can make wonders and real differences for ordinary people. ‘Central Europe, South Korea, Malaysia or Singapore are all examples of it’ he thought to himself, and started working out the details of his project to be.

PS. Kacper is reading a report on Chad’s latest developments on security.

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