Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Voluneetering-- how does this work in practice?

So it seems to me surprising that the most important and exhausting tasks are left on the shoulders of those a bit more community-minded than most.  I read about UNICEF looking for (qualified) volunteers in Nutrition, Risk Communication and Water + Sanitation for the West African countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak.  While I understand the urgency of the situation and the need for a quick-fix solution and maybe a sane system might develop from an ad-hoc one ( but I pessimistically don't think so!) - surely focusing on building local capacity using their volunteers might be a better long-term solution?

I have been compulsively following whatever Ebola news has been grudgingly picked by Google-- Fox News (???) and the established networks and cussing lack of news to disseminate the important things without a 'spin'- couldn't any network find a local person with a mobile telephone to call in daily reports?   I think the Washington Post or the NT Times had a video about the 'burial boys' of Sierra Leone -- 20-something yr olds, some who used to be  taxi-drivers and who volunteered to do the unenviable task for burying the dead victims, facing - being infected, outrage from the communities not being allowed to honour their  dead and ostracism from their family and immediate community from running the possible risk of infection.  They were initially not paid and are now on a princely sum of U$6 per day -- really-- we grudge them THAT paltry sum for risking their lives??

The question of finance is a tricky one -- medivac-ing ain't cheap as presumably there are not many specialised units. I read reports that to evacuate the first American doctor was U$ 2 million then U$1 million per person -- whatever it is: plenty money and yes-- brave of them to volunteer (when they did the outbreak wasn't 'on') and also wise of their agency to have back-up insurance but I mourn the loss of the local healthcare workers -- we are told that when they realised that they had contracted the disease-- no-one was digging into their pockets to medi-vac them to Germany which one assumes had agreed to treat them--- well people-- how does THAT work-- the nightmare (and cost!) of getting a local person to the level that you can communicate with on an intellectual level and you leave them without (financial) support?  On what basis does the world decide to spend billions and then ignore local capacity?  PAY/MAKE AVAILABLE MONEY FOR THE DAMM PEOPLE!

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