Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's in a name

For a change, this post comes from Canada. I am writing from Antigonish, a town 180 km north of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The air is a bit cold here for mid-summer but the environment is warm. I’m standing in the corner of a beautiful room that is full of people dressed in vibrantly colourful outfits and lively conversation. We’re having our coffee break and I’m standing like a wallflower taking some time away to share this experience.
I’m celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Coady Institute. Coady Institute is part of the St. Francis Xavier University. It’s an internationally renowned development institute.
I am privileged to be here on behalf of Engineers Without Borders. Due to a generous grant I am eating, sleeping and travelling to this prestigious event. Because of this privilege I feel compelled to share what is happening so that the benefits can be shared.
This event is quite unique. I expected the typical workshop, a gathering of the minds where people have the opportunity to network and listen to speeches. However, the event is much more ambitious and creative, we as participants are expected to create something. We are expected to create ideas around a concept called Asset Based Citizen-Led Development, or ABCD.
Coming into this workshop I have very little idea about ABCD, and I still do. However after only 4 hours of sessions I am beginning to understand that ABCD is not an exclusive concept that has been branded by the development community and sold as the latest thing to learn in a workshop or in a book. It is a concept which we are able to explore, debate and attach numerous terminologies and language to. For those of you who are newer to the development industry, branding concepts and training people on them is an incredibly common activity. For those of you who are not new to the development industry, in a group of intelligent people you can understand how words are chosen very carefully.
These first 4 hours have brought up the question: How much value can be placed on a name?
A story related to this, I have met numerous people at this conference and had to explain over and over why engineers are not doing engineering work in development. Our name doesn’t actually explain much. However, it allows engineers within Canada to engage in EWB. It allows us to stimulate a community of engineers who are more globally conscious. It also misleads people as to what we are doing overseas. Below is a video which speaks more accurately about the work EWB is doing overseas!

As part of the creation of ideas, below is a poem written by Mam Adisa who works for the Africa 2000 Network, an NGO which EWB has worked with.

A dream come true Moses Coady
Yes that dream you dreamt
You dreamt when walking almost
Not noticing little details of
A normal walk
Because you were always deep
In thoughts for ‘how’ of
Better life for all
A life of the individual
In their own hands.

Yes a dream come true
Others after you with like minds
Are on your dream of ‘how’ for all
Communities over all parts of
The world are dreaming your dream
The dream you started.

Yes a dream come true.
Governments are changing all
Over the world for the
Dream of ‘how’ by all
‘How by all’ the dream of Moses Coady
A dream come true Moses Coady

We are here for the 50th year
Of your dream baby
Baby of ideas of ‘how’
The how school of development
By all
Moses Coady, Moses Coady, I saw Moses Coady your dream come true.

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