Kids' Gloves Aside

Dear Mr. Grantham-Bell,

Thank you for your very detailed report which I have just finished reading. I regret not being able to fulfil your wish and replying within 24 hours, but the vagaries of communication here in the heart of the jungle meant that I only received the report this morning. In addition, your numerous suggestions for change are most thought-provoking and require time to digest and to filter. Rest assured that I shall give them the required thought and provide you with a detailed reply as soon as possible. But permit me now to explain how your visit was perceived here in Boganga.

I'll admit that most of the co-workers here, both national and expatriate, are puzzled as to the motives behind your visit. They picked up on a few statements made in your welcoming address: wanting to see first-hand what was going on; desiring to get to the heart-beat of the organisation; your need to listen to the project co-ordinators and their concerns. They listened to and picked up on a number of these, but, I'm afraid, they found behaviour incompatible with your desires - hence their perplexity. A few examples will suffice.

Your decision to cancel your visit to Leballam caused great consternation. I realise I may be partly to blame for this but if you look over our correspondence you will see that I pointed out several times the impossibility of completing a 100 Km round trip in 2 hours, given the state of our roads, not to mention that the afore-mentioned 2 hours would scarcely suffice to get a true impression of what was going on there. Insult was then added to the already existing gloom when you hired a plane to fly over the dispensary to take photos. After all, you had to have something to show the supporters. But pristine, photogenic buildings is certainly not what this project is about, and the workers felt brushed aside.

I do not know how well you feel your meetings with each of the project managers' went, but most of them were very unhappy at having only fifteen minutes to spend with you. In a country where establishing a relationship is of far greater importance than talking business, your lack of real concern was transparent. Several consider your trip to have been worthless since discovery takes time, time which you weren't willing to give. In addition, I am not sure if you are aware that you, yourself, set the agenda for each of these meetings by having your pre-defined set of questions, and not taking an interest in what others had to say. I might at this point be permitted to point out that most of the recommendations in your report only serve to scratch itches which do not actually exist. But had you been attentive to what the managers had to say, maybe you would have come close to recognising the real problems we're facing.

Finally, I will not try and claim that the financial help you extended to several of those in need was not appreciated. Due to the drought of the last three years food supplies are at an all-time low and seed has to be imported at very high prices. Your aid has certainly made a big difference to many here who are struggling to keep their families alive. And each of these families has specifically asked me to thank you on their behalf. However, your refusal to kneel with them on the mat around a hot pot of Chai with them only served to further the impression that you showed little interest in them as people, despite your generosity.

Sir, let me finish by saying I am proud of ComeToMyAid International. I am proud of the work we have done here and the way we are bringing hope and support to thousands of families in this apparently God-forsaken part of the world. I am also proud of my own part in that work.

I am? At least, I was. But now I find myself seriously having to reconsider my position. So if I might be permitted to make one final request, I would beg you not to answer this letter by email within 24 seconds. Change, lasting change requires time.

Yours sincerely,

U.R. Hope
(National Director ComeToMyAid International)


Discovery takes time and change requires time! So many poignant and ironic links to so much that alludes to many prickly "devoid-of real-human-contact" circumstances in the world today!

8 July 2009 at 14:10  

You used the prompt words so seamlessly in your story...and you conveyed wonderfully the disconnect found so often in our society these days. People are becoming really good at pretending to care, aren't they? Great read!

8 July 2009 at 14:33  

Reminds me of a show on TV called 'The Philanthropist' that I saw a few weeks ago... same guy! I liked the letter format.

8 July 2009 at 16:11  

I, too, like the letter format.

8 July 2009 at 16:53  

I like the story for what it is, and wonder if this world is so real that we don't care to admit it is possible.

9 July 2009 at 01:44  

I love letters. Writing them, getting them, reading them.

I particularly enjoyed this one. The blend of personal/professional and deference/confrontation was well played.

Great fun. Great read.

9 July 2009 at 02:14  

nice format... with the words just goin with the flow! well written! :)

11 July 2009 at 16:16  

Newer Post Older Post Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds