Friday, December 4, 2009

a word about Save the Children and other things I once thought

The other day I traveled to a region called Ismaili to help my good friend move her belongings and to help her organize her living situation. Unfortunately, PCVs are often kicked out of their housing with little notice. In Azerbaijan, it is incredibly weird for PCV females (and males) to live by themselves. In Azerbaijan no one lives alone. No one moves out unless they are married and even then they move into another family's home. The nuclear family structure here is large. So, when PCV females live alone, they seem highly suspicious...we seem like we might be prostitutes. PCVs have asked PC Azerbaijan to change their rules regarding this, but to no avail (PCVs must live alone or with a host family, no exception). So, to make a long story short, my friend ran into housing trouble and I headed north.
On my return to trip to Mingechevir I caught a free ride with Mingechevir employees of Save the Children. I remember, distinctly, my biases against Save the Children while living in the states. I couldn't tell if this organization was legit or not. In NYC, you will often run across canvassers for Save the Children asking you for your money in the name of children. These canvassers always annoyed me for a number of reasons: They tried to make me feel guilty and the only thing they asked for me was money. The latter bothers me because I believe organizers should provide a way for people to help beyond just reaching into their pockets. What if I'm entirely broke, but I want to help? I asked a canvasser this question once and they had no suggestions for me. They had no petition for me to sign, no issue to educate me on, etc. Consequently, I decided Save the Children just wasn't good enough to consider.
Well, I've changed my mind. Save the Children really exists, it really employs HCNs (host country nationals...locals) in developing countries, and it certainly does provide assistance to children. The Save the Children employees I rode home with were returning from an awareness event with Ismaili government authorities regarding children with disabilities. I still think canvassers for Save the Children should diversify, but I was wrong to dismiss the organization entirely.
The things you learn out in never know.

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