The face of child survival
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In many respects, for a person who has spent their entire life within the confines of the Western world, the Millennium Development Goals which are soon due to expire can best be measured in images.
The eight MDG are simple and easily defined, which is their best feature.
One of the problems with the MDG has been the need for education of what they actually are. Still today, if you walked down the main street of any capital city of any large Western economy, most people in the street wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you mentioned the MDG.
Too much time and money has been spent explaining and educating these MDG. Most of the publicity campaigns I have seen appeared to look something akin to massive, extravagant, community cake stalls. What outcome was really achieved by all of that?
Like it or not, systemic change requires some degree of education. This is the cost of a new idea.
But here I want to talk about child mortality, the reason behind the 10 City Bridge Run. We are focusing on child survival: the positive side of child mortality.
What does child survival look like? Healthy children. Rather than celebrate it, we take it for granted.
Child mortality largely goes unseen. My friends from Sierra Leone, all who I have met outside of their country in different parts of the world, all are well educated, eloquent, intelligent, and seemingly no different to you or I. There is not a tag around their neck that proclaims they are from the country with the highest rate of child mortality.
This has been one of the failures of the MDG. They have created an image of something created by large NGOs involved in helping to address these problems through a series of well selected photographs to tug at the heart strings and wallets of people in the West who might fund their causes. It becomes the tool for the charity muggers who provide the customer facing face of these organisations as their massive fundraising and messaging campaigns ramp up.
The stories told through these campaigns create a narrative of the issue. The statistics take on a life of their own. ‘What might that look like?’ we ask ourselves in our mind’s eye.
This post is not about trying to fight the system. Rather, it is about celebrating images of healthy children with healthy mothers. That is the work of the 10 City Bridge Run. There is enough misery to go around. Let’s celebrate life instead.
Celebrations of Independence
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Papua New Guinea celebrated its 39th year of independence on Tuesday. This is all but a historical footnote in the minds of many Australians, as many of us have forgotten the close association between both countries that began 100 years ago this month when Australia seized the German territory at the commencement of the First World War.
The grand vision of Sir Michael Somare of the opportunity to run their own country has yet to be fully realised with the last two decades chequered with constitutional crisis and at times significant civil unrest.
Extractive industries have become a significant feature of foreign interests in Papua New Guinea since 1975, and corruption has sadly often impacted on the distribution of income.
The country has dropped considerably down in the country ratings of UN Human Development since 1975, and Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed earlier this year how she was troubled that PNG was not likely to meet one of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals before they are due at the end of 2015.
It could be easy to look at PNG and focus only on a grim picture.
What I saw when I was beginning the 10 City Bridge Run in Port Moresby painted a different picture. There were many expressions of national pride, concurrent with alignment with which one of the 32 provinces people originally came from. It is a country with over 840 different language groups, and with just over 7 million people, national unity is an amazing achievement.
Indications is that the country is looking towards good leadership and a bright future. Let’s hope so, because the region needs leadership from Papua New Guinea now.