i often feel overwhelmed with the prospect of a career in international development. the very word 'development' has so many connotations, misconceptions, and assumptions built into it that extracting the meaning, methods, and purpose of it is a task academics spend entire careers attempting to clarify. i am passionate and eager to do meaningful work that will have a more global affect than simply earning a salary to pay bills i accrue through my developed-world level of consumption. yet i often feel as though i am working within an aid community that is either misguided or fighting a losing battle to combat poverty, disease, and violence in the developing world. i sense that a lot of young canadians share these toughts, even if they don't want to work in the same field.
upon hearing what i have studied and where i have worked, some people ask me what they can do because they want to 'make a difference,' assuming that because i have some minimal experience in this seemingly meaningful field, i have a simple answer. i don't. like rick mercer, i am much better at figuring out the problems and not so good at finding the answers. my quick answer to the 'what can i do?' question is to tell people to vote. canadians live in a democracy and have the right to a voice in who governs our country, the very same people who make decisions on how public funds are spent. and since i believe that most development issues are political, rooted at the government level, and almost always underfunded, i figure that voting is one of the things that is totally within each canadian's power and capability.
i was reading rick mercer's blog this morning and found out about the Spread the Net campaign that he is co-chairing with belinda stronach. i recommend that you read what he has to say on his website, which is far wittier and funny than what i am trying to say here, and then check out the spread the net website then get out your credit card and pay $10 for a mosquito net to stop the spread of malaria in africa.
spreadthenet.org will be my new answer to the question of 'what can i do?' because you can spare $10. i did this morning and the same government that i think needs to pull up their socks in the foreign aid department is paying me my salary AND taxing me, which is absolutely ridiculous and i can elaborate further in a future post, but the point is - if i can afford $10 to make my difference, then so can you. so can most canadians. we are fortunate beyond the conception of most people in the world and instead of being overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to alleviate the suffering inherent while living in extreme poverty, we can buy a bed net and keep someone safe from malaria.