Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is there a place for expatriate workers in the developing world?

Love146 have spent a big chunk of change to get us as a family out to Cambodia and then continue to pay bills to fly me around the region. Is it worth the investment? Sometimes I am concerned that the money could have been spent on something better. I am well aware that the locals understand the context far better than me. Believe me, it sometimes feels very uncomfortable. So what is the added on value me being based in the region?

Primarily I think it has to do with relationships. Being based in the region enables us to get alongside people we are working with and listen to their passion and their concerns. This is something that is part of the Love146 DNA right from the early visits of the team going undercover into brothels. It wasn’t about voyeurism or development tourism, it was about finding out about what was going on with those on the ‘coal face’ who are dealing with these issues on a day to day basis and asking them ‘how can we help?’

This is an incredible privilege. One day we can be sitting with diplomats, the next with a group of child sex workers. One day we are working alongside other donors, the next we are teaching and learning from practitioners. As we are in the context, we have the credibility. We cannot be accused of flying in from ‘out there’ with no understanding of the local issues.

The money we bring to projects is then only part of the package. We hope that even if there was no money people would still think it was worth us being alongside them.

Glen Miles, Director of Asia Prevention


marilynde said...

Dr. Miles is my hero.

Colleen said...

There is certainly a place for the Miles family in Cambodia! Money well spent!

Peter said...

Glad you settled in Cambodia. And thanks for your blog. It's true; living in the culture you get much more understanding and insight about how (not) to help, and money is only a part of it.