Treats and more

All day I read and wrote about the Paris Declaration, country ownership, donor harmonization and such. It is a fascinating topic. Seven years ago a process got set in motion to reform foreign aid, the way it is given, the way it is processed, the way it is received and the way money is turned into progress. Now, all these years and several big conferences later there is some progress, some regress and some standstill. I am trying to understand the reasons for all three in the hope that we can distill some messages that are practical and hopeful.

I am learning a lot from these readings. One thing I learned is that it is important to know the author(s) of the report cards – as the saying goes, our findings tend to follow our lookings. I also learned that foreign aid is a 220 (or so) billion industry. Sixty percent of that comes from the wealthy economies, the longtime and traditional donors. Of the rest a little more than half comes from philanthropists, corporate foundations, individuals and NGOs and the remainder from emergent economies. This is, by the way, exactly the same amount mentioned on a Prudential billboard I drive by every day as the total value of its holdings of retirement monies – a coincidence or what?

I started the day with an early morning walk amongst Lobster Cove and Smith Point’s many birds, flowering trees and magnificent views. This treat was followed by another treat, my weekly massage by Abi who tried in vain to uplift my painful shoulder, leading to a decision to resume physical therapy. The rest of the day I worked hard, learning and writing, so I could go to another treat in the evening: a concert by Zoe Lewis at Club Passim.

Zoe, a virtuoso in storytelling, improv, songwriting, poetry, keyboard, ukulele, harmonica, guitar, penny whistle, singing (all sorts of traditions) and foot stomping (some of these at the same time) was accompanied by other virtuoso like Alison’s Mark on the clarinet, a young harmonica player and another singer/songwriter/guitarist who opened for her. It was a delightful evening in a historic place – photos of young Dylan and Baez decorated the walls – this is where much music history of my generation was made. I finally made it there, only 30 miles away from our house.

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