As I look back on the past year, my lens is “radical hope”. It’s Dominican Junot Díaz’s advice and comfort to his sad and scared sister in a letter the author wrote her soon after the US presidential election last November.
What a month it’s been. I was wrong; the polls were wrong; the pundits were wrong. There has been a maelstrom of emotion surrounding the recent US election, as you are no doubt aware.
By the time you read this month’s column, there will be a new president-elect of the United States. She will have earned every debate, every speech and every vote that put her there.
Tourism affects, directly or indirectly, many of us in Vietnam. That number of ‘us’ is also increasing because tourism is one of the biggest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world, contributing nearly 6% of the globe’s GDP. Tourism is so important the UN has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
During the summer, silly season media outlets tend to report on the goofy or frivolous simply because most law courts and government administrations are not in session and everyone’s on holiday. There’s usually just no big (read: important) news.
Not that long ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged to give away his gazillions of shares of the company he famously started in his pyjamas. Add to this fray the recent Brexit vote in the UK and the never-ending US presidential campaign, and you could say I’ve had plutocracy on the brain for a while now.
By the time you read this, another graduation will have been celebrated at KOTO. This year three classes of young men and women proudly walked across the stage as they received their certificates, the triumphant culmination in their two-year journey with KOTO. If you’re not familiar, KOTO provides vocational hospitality training to youth who come from highly disadvantaged circumstances.
We’ve looked at ill-defined terminology before. The non-profit sector not only loves its jargon (MEAL policy, anyone?) but what about those popular — and hazy — words that sound like they really nail something on the head, but upon closer inspection collapse under the weight of their lofty ambitions. ‘Building capacity’ or ‘sustainability’ or ‘delivering impact’ (ack!) are all suspect terms and rightfully so. They’re overused and defined so broadly as to become meaningless. I’ll offer up ‘empowerment’ to demonstrate what I mean.
One in three women and girls on this planet do not have access to a toilet when they menstruate, and 70 percent of women feel stigmatised or ashamed about their period.
I’m not judgmental,” said the woman working for an NGO in Cambodia. “But I just don’t understand why they don’t seem to get it.” She works handing out soap and toothbrushes as part of a community health project and the “it” is using said items for the improved hygiene results the NGO was counting on. The locals had their own ideas and were instead selling said hygiene improvements.