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Sunday Scribblings: Change

Monday, December 25, 2006 by Marianne Elliott

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Sunday Scribblings: Change Originally uploaded by frida world.

Any time I venture into the bazaar here in Afghanistan I'm approached by women asking the equivalent of "Can you spare some change?".

I struggle with this request. Given my reputation as a bleeding heart my reluctance to give money may seem strange. The problem is that I want a different kind of change for them.

I want real social change. I want a different kind of development aid, an inclusive and effective kind of assistance. I want the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow into this country to bring about noticeable change for these women. I want a radical reorganistion of social and economic structures at a global and local level in order to provide these women with more choices. I want them to have real alternatives to begging.

Believe me, I want to given them my spare change.

In the past 15 years since I left my parent's home on a farm in small town New Zealand I have changed from single to married, from married to divorced and then back to single again. I have lived in more than twenty different homes (and those are only the ones into which I moved my boxes for long enough to remember them) with more than thirty different housemates. I have lived and worked in four different countries and traveled in more than forty. I have worked for the government, for the private sector, for not-for-profit organisations and for the United Nations. I have been a student, a storyteller, a lawyer, an aid worker, a project manager, a policy advisor, a human rights officer and a fairy. I've changed my religion, and changed my world view.

I've often reflected on the apparently limitless possibilities from which I may choose my path. I've sometimes revelled in this freedom and other times felt paralysed by it.

Believe me, I have change to spare.

So when she takes hold of my sleeve and asks me "Can you spare some change?" I only wish I could give her the kind that she deserves.

Inspired by Elspeth

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6 Responses to "Sunday Scribblings: Change"

  1. Susannah says:

    sweetheart, i’m with you wanting that change – for so many women across the globe….. wishing you a happy and healthful christmas Frida – what are you doing on the big day? xox

  2. Lacithecat says:

    You know I so understand. I have just back from working on a PSD project in Mozambique. Poverty is dire, but alas it seems like a walk in the park compared to what you are doing. Interesting, I left my farm 17 years ago in Indiana … and my story sounds strangely similar. Good luck.

  3. Crafty Green Poet says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I worked in Malawi for two years and felt the same way everytime anyone asked me for spare change. Ditto when homeless people here ask me for money….

  4. megan says:

    thanks for the insight into a world I don’t know. Really enjoyed/admired your expression of the change you wish for the women of Afghanistan. I have a friend who reminds me from time to time that our pains are luxuries.

  5. susanna says:

    You really are living an inspiring life! You are keeping a diary, right? 🙂 There have been quite a few newstories here in the States about women who are starting their own businesses, going to schools, becoming midwives, etc. Do YOU see this happening in Afghanistan? Is the West making a real, positive difference there?

  6. luzie says:

    Your last paragraph made me sigh because I know exactly what you mean, that’s how I felt when I spent 4 weeks in Burma last September, an experience that has deeply affected and changed me. I’m going back there in August to teach English in a school, and to help get the kids off the streets and into the school.

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