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Friday, 16 November 2007

Celebrating Searchers (Responding to feedback)

I received some feedback this week on the Celebrating Searchers column, in particular, the recent article on Zambia Hope International. Now I don’t always publish feedback but I thought I should share some with you since it relates to the fundamental tenets of the blog, namely, free speech and advancing of different ideas, consistent with our Zambian way of life.

Reader 1:

Keep up with what you are best at and do what you love most (New Zambia-real issues). ‘Searchers Zambia campaign’ may spoil the whole purpose, mission and vision, let alone readers’ interests. Simwinga, Musonda and private school woman in Lusaka mentioned in your articles are now using New Zambia blog to make a stand for their best gains. Cyber net mission lickers who have changed this once economically-packed blog into a beggars’ blog, ancient muzungu- wanga missionary workers forum. The pictures they display in order to trap the dollar are not the true reflections of most families in Zambia. Their families, may be! Look at Simwinga while in San Francisco, look at his family and the hungry agric show participants. What a contrast! Shame!

Reader 2:

What about this 'Zambian Farmer' Adamson Musonda of Zambia Hope international (Tel; 001 301 624 0061, email;info@ZambiaHope.org)? I suspect he is alleviating the suffering of orphaned children by remote control because his Tel # is American and not the Zambian 00260, download attachment and see the child in the picture, ha! The nostrils are blocked, oh NO! Mr Musonda or the teacher should have noticed this stuff before the cameraman took the picture? Very unhygienic! How much should we pay the Musondas to teach orphaned children basic hygiene? Ba Musonda tata, benifye bwino. There are better ways of making us sympathise and give out! Awe bawishi, stop making such dirty impressions about HIV/AIDS in Zambia. This may be evidence enough to put off genuine donors. Even some of us' Zambian sympathisers may quit the queue. Donations in wrong hands!

Personal financial gain allegedly? Giving orphaned children a bright future is a wonderful thing to do. With money pouring in from all directions, one should not fail to buy nostril/ear buds, paper towel for such nostrils or ears. This child's finger or pencil would done the unblocking. NO, I shall not be duped by such Musondas, Simwingas quixotically using this NEW ZAMBIA blog. I beg to angrily disagree with this embarrassing promotional material by/for/from whoever, whatever, whenever, however...

My view on these comments is as follows:

1. The Celebrating Searchers column is something created by the author and is unsolicited. Simwinga, Musonda, Simutowe et al have not asked that I should blog about them. They simply happen to be Zambians I believe are making a difference on the “ground”, without relying on Government.

2. I am a profound believer in “searchers”. In as much as we have elected Government to take forward development on our behalf, very often better ideas start with individuals who take the risk and step out to make the difference. I passionately believe we should celebrate these Zambians, and more importantly, be encouraged by their initiaves to make a difference.

3. I accept that not all the searchers may turn out to be “genuine” or let me put it this way – some Searchers may be in it for personal gain and not the welfare of Zambian. Thats beside the point because the real test is whether their actions are beneficial for the greater good of Zambia.

4. If readers feel that certain “searchers” have missed the point, then you are encouraged to write a post and respond to it and enter the debate. New Zambia stands ready to not only flag up the post but have new articles that challenge other articles on the blog. So if you want to challenge an opinion expressed on the blog by the author or another reader simply enter the discussion! What New Zambia won’t do is pander to specific social and political ideological points of view. We are here to exchange ideas not to stifle opinion.
All ideas are welcome no matter how contrarian.

2 comments:

  1. Cho,

    I think I may be able to help shed some light on the issue of US contact addresses for Zambian charities. In the course of my daily life, I am somewhat of a pest when it comes to interrogating my corporate friends as to how much of their charity and investment gets oriented to Africa. One of the things that I have learned is that most major transnational corps have matching donor programs for their employees' charitable giving, so I of course push the Zambian ones every chance I get. The problem comes in with the rules on the matching donor programs, which are limited to a pre-approved list of eligible charities. It is not overly difficult in most cases to get a charity added to the list, as long as at least one employee wants to donate to it on a regular basis, and it is registered in the United States. The unfortunate side effect is that it becomes impossible to persuade employees of these companies to donate off the list, since it effectively cuts their ability to contribute anywhere in half.

    West Coast software and media companies are particularly generous in this regard, but are wary of anti-terror provisions of the Patriot Act, and so avoid any charity without a US address. Most likely Mr Musonda has made American friends over the course of developing his charity who have helped him to establish an officially sanctioned contact point in San Francisco, thereby opening up lucrative avenues of donor funding otherwise unavailable to an NGO confined to Lusaka.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yakima,

    Many thanks for this contribution.

    The explanation seems perfectly logical.

    It seems to me that Hope International are well within their rights to use the address that would maximise their source of funding!

    The question is whether Hope International are crowding out other source of funding by engaging in meaningless charity work. That remains a unknown among other unknowns!

    ReplyDelete

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