Have fun when you can. Think all the time.

Music, Trees, Environment, BBC, Hardwood floors, Storytelling, Adventures, International development, Learning new things, Getting new perspectives, Writing essays, Water, Road trips, Photography, Spaghetti squash, Art, Books, Getting involved, Gingerbread lattes,(Not)Sleeping, Reading, Poetry, Falling leaves, Aging, Monologues, Prickly pear tea, Making lists, Politics, New ideas, Exploring, Traveling, Dinosaurs, Killer whales, Sushi, Pop Culture, Meeting new people, Barbequing with friends, Tubing down the river, Waking up early, Discovering new things, Trees, Empathy, Believing in the Power of Love

January 31, 2011

Issue: Corruption

The issue of corruption (especially in developing countries) has been taking up a lot of space in my brain lately. While in Honduras I worked with a Non-governmental Organization full of talented, intelligent, passionate people who were great at what they did, and loved it. I mean really cared about what they were doing, really believed in it--and it worked. The programs, the projects they are working in small communities, in tiny villages and aldeas made up of campisinos and farmers, but their programs and projects will never succeed nationally, or even in larger cities like Juticalpa, because of the brick wall and hindering force that is corruption. Corruption occurs in Honduras (and many other countries across the globe) in many different mediums, and until the issue of corruption is addressed and dealt with the issues of natural resources management, education, (gang)violence, drug trafficking ect. will never be able to addressed--effectively anyways.

Many people site education as the key to development and a better situation (for a country, for an individual, for a people), and I wouldn't argue against that, but I would stress the importance of dealing with the corruption as well, because corruption is most definitely present in the education system of many countries effecting issues of accessibility, quality etc.

Okay, corruption is a big road block to successful development...now what? Although I am very frustrated with the issue of corruption relating to development, but what frustrates me more is when 'outsiders' go into communities, go into countries and try to impose their ideals, values, and way of life on the people living within those territories. I am strongly against structural readjustment policies, external government reforms, and large broad paintbrush style solutions conjured by someone external to the community to be effected. I don't think that these big end of all poverty save the world in 5 simple steps its so easy style plans are functional, effective or practical and I think that these theories might actually make actual effective and successful development more difficult to come by. Because our society is based on things that are convenient easy and procure big results with little effort (or change in our own personal lives) these notions are extremely popular but offer skewed and unrealistic goals that people accept without thought--especially when they leave a warm fuzzy feeling in the individual.

Take the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for example. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, Achieve universal primary education, Promote gender equality and empower women, Reduce child mortality rate, Improve maternal health, Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, Ensure environmental sustainability, and Develop a global partnership for development by 2015. I will not argue that those aren't great goals, they most definitely are, but they are HUGE goals, and by 'committing' to achieve ALL OF THEM by the year 2015 is hugely unrealistic, oversimplifies the issues and allows politicians off the hook to actually implement programs, projects, and plans that target these goals--focusing on several large goals instead of starting small, and focusing on specific issues is a common trend that gets votes (for politicians looking for re-election), but doesn't necessarily get things done.

Check out these books:

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
-I have yet to read this bad boy, but I watched the documentary and the book is on the top of my reading list. Take it with a grain of salt, but likely has some truth.

White Mans Burden-I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone that would be foolish enough to ask me for a suggestion. An easy enough of a read for anyone (not just development majors) to understand, filled with great colourful examples, and closely aligns with the type of development that I favour.

The End of Poverty-On the contrary, this author supports a more simplified, fix the world in 5 simple steps, broad paintbrush style of development that I don't necessarily support. Still an interesting read with a different perspective, with an intro from BONO how could you go wrong?

Have fun when you can, Think all the time
Delaney C.

January 26, 2011

Back in My Home and Native Land

Its just under a week since I left Honduras, and I'm feeling 'flat', as though I am back in Canada but part of me is still very far away. Leaving Honduras was hard, and I found myself more nervous to return to Canada than I was when I originally set off for Honduras. I wasn't necessarily expecting to feel this way which has felt me feeling a bit blindsided causing me to have trouble articulating my feelings towards the end of my internship. Its been difficult to put in to words what my time in Honduras has meant to me, what I have taken away, and all of that good stuff, when I have been so harshly tossed back into things having to immediately worry about what comes next and begin crossing things off my 'to-do' list that seems to have been created somewhere between Houston and Toronto.

Without a doubt my time in Honduras has taught me invaluable lessons, both personal in nature and about development but trying to quantify those lessons has proved to be difficult if not impossible, and that's not the easiest thing to explain to people who want to know 'all about' my experience in Central America. I'm never sure of the line between giving enough information to satisfy ones curiosity and giving too much information leaving the listener bored and wishing they had never asked.

Culture Shock is a force not to be reckoned with, and for me reverse culture shock (upon returning to Canada) has always been a harder battle. I feel guilty. I feel overwhelmed, especially at University or in places with lots of people (which I used to thrive on). I feel more confused than ever...about what the next step is for me, and I feel like a part of me is still in Honduras.

Con Esperanza y Amor
Delaney C.

January 7, 2011

15 buses, 2 ferries, several car rides and many memories later

I am back in Juticalpa for my last week and a half before returning to my home and native land with very mixed feelings. My time in Honduras has been amazing, although an amazing that is very different than you would use to describe a vacation, an evening out with friends, a second date, or a concert you've waited a long time to see and I'm not sure I'll be able to effectively articulate that aspect of my internship but I'll try my best to do so in a later post. I've learned so much about so many things that it seems impossible to have only been here for a short 4 1/2 months. I've been able to see some amazing things, meet some amazing inspiring people, and have had some amazing experiences (not all good ones, but ones that will be a part of me forever), and ironically now its the uncertainty of what happens next that has me a little freaked out to return to a city I have known my whole life full of friends and family with open arms and smiling faces.

Unfortunately last Thursday something a little bit scary happened, occurring just 10 minutes away from the city I live in and on a highway that I take frequently. I'm not naive, I know that Honduras is/can be a dangerous place, but this is a little more close to home for me than the shootings that have occurred inside of the town during my time in Honduras because its a route I take often and a time (while taking the bus) that I have no control over what happens to me once I get on. Since returning to Juticapla I have talked to my Honduran family about the incidence and they told me that the town is really tense and the streets are even more dangerous at night. I'm hoping that the next week will be as uneventful (safety wise) as the last 4 1/2 months and that as long as I continue to be smart, I'll stay safe.


LWF shut down for Christmas and I had the amazing opportunity to explore other departments (provinces) of Honduras and spend the holidays with Sandra (my wonderful coworker from Teguic.) and her family in Santa Rosa de Copan. Santa Rosa is cold! and it would have been useful to have a scarf, touque and mittens. Her mother is the sweetest fiercest little old lady, and I enjoyed helping her make pan (to eat with cafe) and her nephew Emilio had a huge crush on me, that may or may not have been mutual. Sandra took me on walks up and down her cobble stoned streets showing me important buildings, and her favourite places to grab a coffee and read a book. She tried to teach me the difference between Salsa and Meringue(sp?) and after many late nights dancing in her living room with her attention seeking but adorable niece Fernanda I may just have figured it out. Christmas was great however the only tradition I was able to keep alive was waking up on Christmas morning with a hangover--guess that one will have to stick around for a couple of more years. Sorry Mom. We went over to Sandra's Brother's house for Christmas dinners and a house full of friends an family. We had nancatamales, rice, and some special Christmas dish with specially prepared pork. There was music, dancing, and too many shots. The firecrackers started at around 8pm and lasted until early into the morning. Why Hondurans are obsessed with firecrackers (fireworks without the pretty colours) is beyond me but men--grown men--are in the streets daily shooting these things off hour after hour. I must be missing something, If you can't beat them, join them--Ill have to give it a try before I come home.

I also really enjoyed maneuvering around the country via bus all by my lonesome and I have come to dislike the term "Chicken Bus" given to colorful modified and decorated US school bus and transit bus that transports goods and people between communities here in Honduras, as well as other parts of the world. I've been on a million of these buses, and although I can only speak for the section of Honduras that I live in, I have yet to see a chicken (or any form of livestock) on any of the buses, but even if I had I would still feel uncomfortable by the term. As a foreigner it might seem weird or different to see some of the things transported on these buses, however a car is a luxury that many Canadians (especially those living in remote rural areas) have that does not exist in many other parts of the world and if you could see all the weird and possibly freaky things going into those cars and being transported behind closed (car)doors from store to home you'd probably be just as shocked and surprised. I think that terming these buses, often the only way of transportation to rural and remote areas, after livestock is ethnocentric, small minded, and demeaning to the cultures that use them and takes away from the fact that they are efficient (relatively speaking) and a great cost effective way to get from point A to point B while having the opportunity to take in the beautiful countryside.

While taking a bus back to Santa Rosa de Copan after visiting the Mayan ruins in Copan a man started talking to me in English. This happens quite regularly, as though simply knowing English forges a great bond between us, and usually I don't mind chatting and helping someone practice their English however this time after about twenty minutes the man (who was about my age and apparently lives and works in Hollywood) started typing things in Spanish on his phone to show me so I could practice my Spanish, things like "You are so pretty" "I want you", then after getting off the phone with Sandra (letting her know that I was close, and letting him know that someone was waiting for me) he grabbed my phone to get my number and then said, "You are my Canadian girlfriend now, I need to take a picture of you to show my family, you can meet them tomorrow." Bahah Luckily for me the bus was just pulling into the dirt patch that serves as a terminal so I jumped into the isle insuring there were several people in between us, hopped into a cab, and sped away...although I couldn't avoid his calls that continued for two weeks even though I failed to answer even once. O Honduran courtship how I will miss thee once I am back on Canadian soil.

I have no doubt my last week here will fly by as I try to finish my research, pack up my room, say good bye to my new friends and family and embark on the 48 hour journey that will take me home to the frozen tundra close to my heart that is My Winnipeg. I may have to stop traveling after this because my heart is getting stretched pretty thin trying to reach so many people in so many places all at the same time. Either that or I'll have to figure out a way to teleport to make visiting much easier because there's still a lot of the world I want to explore.

Happy New Year, Make memories you are proud to keep,
Delaney C.