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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 3 May 1999

bulletFrom Readers
bulletThe Alliance in Motion
bulletAn Alliance? As Seen By
bulletOasis of the Alliance
bulletIntercultural Dialogue
bulletCaravan Association
bulletNgecha Artists Ass'n
bulletReturn to ALLIANCE LIBRARY

What a pleasure to receive this second edition of Caravan! So vibrant with this flamboyant illustration, like the diversity of the Alliance itself! Hats off to you. You have kept up with the expectations left after the first edition.
Philippe Robichon (France)

This is to congratulate you and others for producing the wonderful Caravan. The multiple voices from all corners of the world now have an additional channel to disseminate and share their views. May this effort help bring peace, harmony and prosperity to all in the coming 21 century.
Lim Hin Fui (Malaysia)

The new Caravan is wonderful. That burst of colour is breathtaking. We are so inspired by Caravan that we may also go the way of handmade paper and recycled paper, plus putting together a team of correspondents from around Asia-Pacific.
Pradeep Sebastian (India)
Co-editor of Butterfly Futures

I am very happy to receive Caravan. When I read the ideas and reflections of friends throughout the world, I feel that we belong to the same family. By my signature, the Group for Research and Action for the Development of the Sahel region (GRAD/Sahel), of which I am the coordinator, and its 280 members adhere to the actions of the workshop on a Socio-economy of solidarity. Please put us in contact with any organisations that are interested in agriculture, training, the exchange of ideas, savings and credit, etc. May the Alliance, through Caravan, continue to play this role of bringing people who are far apart closer together.
Babacar Ndao, Senegal
GRAD/Sahel, s/c Asescaw,
B.P. 9 Ross-Bethio, Senegal

Mr. Amouzou, please know that your tribute to Lounès Matoub (see Caravan 1, p. 16) went straight to the hearts of Algerian readers of Caravan. It is true that to know the Alliance or to belong to it is to know one’s own village – a village that is geographically dispersed by nature and politically divided by man himself – but that is happily beginning to turn into a Pangaea.
H & M Bertache (Algeria)

Although I have been active in the Alliance for a Responsible and United World for several years, this is the first time that I have received such a remarkable publication. The transformation is impressive and the result remarkable in all respects: the content, the variety of contributions, the general presentation, the conception, the model, the nature of the paper! In short, readers are really incited to read this publication, which is not always the case with other papers.
Jean Pierre Ribaut (Pax Christi, France)

I found the second issue beautiful in its visuals, especially the cover page, but a bit heavy in the articles... A newsletter is different from an academic journal, and this one was bending a bit too much on the academic side.
Ricardo Gomez (Canada)

From Readers
Symbols of a new era | NGOs and the Titanic | The dream unfolds

Many thanks to all who took the time to write to us. Many have expressed their admiration for the artwork by Boy Dominguez on the first page of the last edition of Caravan, as well as their appreciation for the printer’s work and for the choice of using hand-crafted paper.

We have been encouraged to continue this model of collaboration with an artist from a different country for each edition.

The paper on which we are printing is a woodfree paper made of recycled fabrics manufactured by indian artisans, that we have deliberately chosen for social and environmental reasons, despite its higher cost. We are glad to print on this paper the news and articles that come to us from the four corners of the world.

May we reflect hereby the image of a creative, diverse, responsible and dynamic Alliance.

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Symbols of a new era
Return to Top | NGOs and the Titanic | The dream unfolds

New winds blow in the world. A Portuguese writer, self declared as a Communist, friend and ally of the EZLN, wins the Nobel Prize in Literature. An Indian economist, former professor at the University of Shantiniketan, West Bengal (Indian state ruled by the Communist Party), established by Rabindranath Tagore, wins the Nobel Prize in Economy. His proposal is linked to the theory of welfare, human development, food security, the strengthening of democracy. It rejects the dismantlement of the state in poor countries, particularly, in such as health and education. In practice, his positions are opposed to the discourse imposed by international organizations.

In Europe and the United States, many concerned voices on the world crisis have begun talking not only about the failure of the IMF and the World Bank, but about asking for the heads of their top officials. This has been accompanied by a growing pressure for a revision of the Bretton Woods accords. Likewise, some prestigious publications have informed about the scarcity of resources of international organizations and the vicious cycle in which they are trapped to satisfy the credit demands of the countries going through the crisis.

In this context, the prison and liberty of Augusto Pinochet is a symbol for change. The former Chilean dictator had been able to move freely in the international arena because he presented himself as the emblem of the neoliberal model imposed in his country. The Chilean "achievements" seem to have been enough to make the international public forget about the repressive and antidemocratic characteristics of his rule. In other words, it was considered -although not openly- that "hard line politics" was one of the necessary conditions to impose and adequately manage the structural reforms of the economy. Pinochet's political cynicism over these last years was legitimated, in fact, thanks to the "great improvements" of the Chilean economy, which has been subject of more than one myth.

In a moment in which new winds blow, and the issue of development has been put again at the center of the debate. Pinochet's imprisonment represents a sort of judgment although timid - to the prevailing neoliberal model. Also, it is a call on the attention of many governments in the Continent in the direction that it is not possible to think of development beyond the limits of democracy; that development is a political and ethical issue, related to social responsability; that the fundamental elements has to do with the costs of development and the struggle against poverty. Today, these are crucial topics which need to be taken into account at the moment of defining any planning proposal.

Roque Espinosa (Ecuador)
Professor at Simon Bolivar Andean University
and leader articulist at Diario Hoy

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NGOs and the Titanic
Return to Top | Symbols of a new era | The dream unfolds

Our beautiful planet is a ship for which we are collectively responsible, as is the case for the crew of any other vessel. It is up to us to ensure that our earthship does not become another Titanic. Growing injustices, threats of environmental disasters and wars between rich and poor are the icebergs on our horizon. On our ship, we, the Westerners, are comfortably occupying the first class together with the elite of the ‘Third World’. Some of us may feel compassion when faced with the horrifying living conditions in third class where so many passengers are confined. Yet, just sending some well-intentioned consolation down below will not prevent our boat from sinking. It is advisable to scrutinize the horizon and steer in another direction before we hit on an iceberg. If, however, water is already pouring into the hold, we must join forces and bail out the water lest we all sink. Some of us in luxury and music, the others in horour.

What conclusion can we draw from this metaphor? First, that we cannot afford to lose time. Secondly, that we must carefully reflect as to what to do. I would like to propose three challenges to the NGO community: the need to reject the very concept of development, to question aid and to do away with development projects. And replace all that with creative and responsible alternatives.

The term development is closely linked to western-based capitalism and productivism. Colonization, development, globalization: these three notions are closely associated in one and the same materialistic logic. Whatever our good intentions as NGOs, development is a toxic word. As a matter of fact it does not even exist in many languages of the ‘Third World’ populations. Some say that "a good life" may be a more acceptable and more flexible term. Women of different cultures suggest the term "dignity". Reginald Moreels speaks of "equality in diversity". All cultures are equally precious whatever their level of material achievement. Cultural diversity is indispensable for our survival. The world needs other wisdoms, other approaches to economics and politics than those spread since 400 years by the West throughout the world in the name of development. Perceived at its worst, development can attack the soul of a people, like the AIDS epidemic.

Aid is often only a hypocritical euphemism. Everybody knows that it brings in more profit to our countries than it costs. Western NGOs like to speak of partnership and participation; are we not deceiving ourselves when one is paying and the other is receiving? (...) The world disorder is so unjust that it requires a level of individual and collective commitment much higher than a simple financial gift. Michel Rocard is a mindful passenger on our Titanic. He writes: " It is much more important to remove the shakles and brakes on development than to try to foster it directly ". This indicates clearly what the priority is: to struggle against hyper liberal globalization. In addition, some types of aid may still be in order, but always as complement, that is to say as support to an already existing local initiative.

The project approach to development is useful to managers and donors, not to people at the grass-roots level. We should replace this tool which is so typical of our domination and control-oriented culture by flexible, open-ended support programmes decided upon jointly by donors and recipients on a basis of mutual trust. (...)

Dear passenger on the Titanic, if you worry as I do about the icebergs, if you are shocked by the gates which relegate people in third class, come and join the debate. We must change the captain, slow the speed of our ship, re-orient her course. And that must be done very very soon, so as to reach the harbour safely. All together.

Thierry Verhelst (Network Cultures, Belgium)

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The dream unfolds
Return to Top | Symbols of a new era | NGOs and the Titanic

Dear friend,

How are you doing? It is my greatest hope that you are doing fine. With us here all is fine and we are working very hard towards realizing our common goal i.e. the dream of establishing a new village. We strongly believe that at a later day the terms like poverty, dictators, genocide will not be part of children history. Like someone sang a song which says:

"Just like a garden of flowers so were people created, not to be different but to be beautiful"

Ngecha artists Association in conjunction with other artist has held an exhibition with the assistance of the German "Goethe Institute" The theme of the exhibition was "Nairobi Insecurity". The exhibition has gone on successfully and we will proceed to hold the same at the Habitat later next month. We believe that if security in the Country is restored it would be the first step towards establishing the new village from these corner of the earth. (...)

Humanity has just emerged from the experimental phase (adolescence phase). I must say that I feel greatly honored to be part of humanity in its early adulthood. The craving in our heart for a better and united world is just but a sign of humanity in its maturity.

Now it is the responsibility of each and every of us to nourish our spiritual links through positive thinking, otherwise the task ahead of us is enormous. But I have got one thing to tell all the Alliance partners and friends that the faint hearted: the cynics, the vacillators, the cowards have never been important in the history of a people. It is the dreamers, the idealists, the adventurers and the romantics that move humanity forward. Dream on, Dream on.

Patrick Mungai
P.O. Box 62728, Nairobi, KENYA.

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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated January 30, 2000.