Monday, August 22, 2011
A Small Moment of Gratitude
Hello from Liberia where I am working for the next two weeks on our energy support program. I probably won’t have much time to blog, but I will do what I can because I want to capture this place as best I can because it’s a big part of My Byway now.
I am so proud of this project. Proud that my organization competed and won this. Proud that I led the effort. Proud to now see the work that is unfolding almost one year on the ground. Proud of the local team here – of Liberians and expatriates from the US, Nepal and Sri Lanka who make it all happen. And one of the most beautiful and rewarding things about my job is working with our local team here on the ground. My job is to support them and help make them successful – an easier thing to do when you have such a great team.
If you work in the international development assistance business you know that a great deal of the project money actually supports the United States. It pays for salaries for staff from organizations; it buys technical consultants, many of whom are American; and it buys goods and other services from US companies. This is one of the things that grates on me the most when some people complain about how much US government money goes to development assistance. First of all, if you analyze the numbers, it is peanuts. Peanuts in comparison to other government spending. Second, if the US wants to play the game of being a global leader, it has to get involved. Development assistance can do good things to help others and in turn build relationships on international, national and local levels. This is good for my country and it is good for the world. Third, a lot of US citizens and businesses, large and small, benefit from this work. It creates jobs. It pays my salary. And I am grateful for that. But put the benefits to the US aside for a moment.
On a personal level, nothing makes me happier than when a project does good work (they aren’t all good) AND creates good local jobs for local people. In a place like Liberia, as in so many others, there are limited opportunities for smart, educated Liberians – of which there are many. I love that our project can create four years of solid, good employment opportunities for people. I wish we could generate more. With this alone so much good can be done for so little money in the big picture.
The project that I work on in Liberia has such an excellent staff – it makes me so proud and so happy to work with such a great team and I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity. It is their country and this work stands to benefit them. The expats all do their work and pack their bags in four years and move on to the next country. The Liberians however will still be here, hopefully carrying forward the good work that has been started and benefiting from it. Today, here and now, I feel good about my job. Really, really good. And I feel lucky to feel this. To experience it. Thank you universe. Thank you for allowing me to be a small, tiny part of the greater good. Give me power, give me strength to contribute. Because that is what life is about. That is what traveling on the byway is all about. A small speck. A small moment in time. A small scene on the byway. Let me help make a difference in this great big world.