Sunday, 19 April 2009

Volunteer Sees Disunity Hampering Mongolia

Nickson Kakiri, my oft-mentioned VSO colleague and collaborator, who recently returned to Kenya, on the development work in Mongolia;

Volunteer Sees Disunity Hampering Mongolia's Disabled
William Kennedy, UB Post, Thursday, March 12, 2009.

Many obstacles stand between disabled people and a comfortable life in Mongolia, but one of the biggest may be a lack of cooperation between the various groups representing them. Recently, the aid organization Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) arranged a meeting of several Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) in Ulaanbaatar’s Puma Hotel, with the express purpose of promoting exchange and collaboration. It’s a necessary step for groups of marginalized people hoping to advance their causes, according to Nickson Kakiri, a VSO volunteer working with Mongolia’s Federation of the Deaf as a Mainstreaming Disability Adviser.

“Organizations or individuals, if they don’t speak as a group, they’re not strong, “he said. “If they don’t involve other groups, they’re not as trusted.”


Friday, 10 April 2009


In April I accompanied Connect Culture's Eleanor Lisney on an access audit at the local Womens Resource Centre. The hard-to-find sign and step threshold at the building entrance were the first barriers, but internally, the ground level offices and toilets were relatively easily accessible. Some adaptations to improve the clarity for visual impaired people and deaf people were suggested, with some ideas about protocols and reception for people with diverse disabilities.

The completed report is available by request.

Friday, 3 April 2009

the girl in the café (film review)

I was delighted when the touring copy of this DVD arrived in the mail from the previous reviewer in Leuven, Belgium. When I booked in several months ago to see this film, I was aware that it portrayed some kind of unlikely chance meeting between two odd characters, played by Bill Nighy and Kelly MacDonald. I thought of 'Lost in Translation'. But little did I know how apt it would be, at this time and this week to see this film, as it tackles the themes of the G8 summit and the Millenium Development Goals, no less. The G20 meeting has just ended in London, with discussion of the IMF, rather than of the MDGs. The latter goals were the first ever theme of this blog, and something in which I have become increasingly interested, as a means to measure the overwhelming need to reduce poverty.

Richard Curtis' script for The Girl in the Cafe somehow connects this unlikely pair characters as a filmic device, which attempts optimistically to reconcile ordinary people with the decisions of world leaders. The press have not been feeling any such connection in London this week.

The film's settings are impressive, from the banal London Caff and Italian restaurant, to then later portraying modern architecture and urbanism in Rejkjavik. The moody photography of the city of Rejkjavik in changing light over the few days of the summit is very memorable. The luxury hotel accommodation for the summit, combined with the general reticence and conservatism of the world leaders at the summit, make a tense backdrop for Kelly MacDonald's character, an interloper, as she plays precariously on politicians' consciences.

The enjoyable pace of the film, and the sound track music by Sigur Ros and others, complete a watchable film with a strong positive message .