Guest blog: Every Last Child screening in Norwich

5 Feb 2016

This guest blog comes from Paul McConnell from our Norwich group who will be hosting a screening of 'Every Last Child' and panel event on Saturday 6th February.  “Just after I spoke to Abi we sat down outside the bank. I sat alone. A man made his way toward me. Like others I had seen he could not walk. His legs were no more than bones and he moved himself around with hands. Wearing sandals on his hands. He was the picture of hopeless destitution. He spoke to me in Swahili. I repeatedly told him I did not understand ‘Sielewi, sizungumzi swahili.”’ This is an excerpt from a diary I kept while volunteering for an NGO in Kigoma, Tanzania. It was the first time I was confronted with absolute poverty and it’s seared into my memory. I remember the internal struggle in my mind was whether to give money or not as I’d been told by trainers that it perpetuates power structures, or maladaptive behaviour patterns or something rooted in an analytical assessment. In that agonising moment, the thought seemed a heartless intrusion. “Am I to be one more person who ignored this broken and lonely soul on his sad path to starvation?” I wrote “I don’t see the difference between him and I, it is nothing more than the luck that shapes our chance at life.” In the end I compromised, leaving to later return and awkwardly hand him a bunch of bananas. Anxiety over whether it was right to give or not has long past, but as I prepare to host a screening of Every Last Child on the fight to end polio in Pakistan – one of the final and most challenging battlegrounds on the road to global eradication – the image is as lucid as ever.  Indeed, especially as what I had mistakenly thought of as a symptom of starvation in his skeletal legs was undoubtedly the textbook crippling legacy of childhood polio. I must say emphatically that it would be deeply unfair to give the impression that this was the lasting image of Tanzania to me, it is quite the opposite. Somewhere in my unconscious assumptions I had been expecting to encounter in Tanzania an environment filled with the desperate and wailing poor. Instead, of course, I found bustling towns full of life and a culture of vibrancy, colour, entrepreneurship and, most memorably, positivity. So if you want a representative image of those our development aid assists, banish the image of the helpless beggar, and instead look to Every Last Child’s Gulnaz Shesazi who, despite seeing her niece and sister-in-law gunned down for their work on a door-to-door vaccination drive, continues as a polio activist, facing down the omnipresent threat of violence with inspiring courage and determination. Tomorrow ( Saturday 6th February) we will be holding a screening of Every Last Child at 10.30am at The Auditorium, in the Forum, Norwich. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dr Samir Dervisevic, Head of Microbiology at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, a representative from Rotary international, who will discuss Rotary’s polio eradication work in India and Jim Calverley from RESULTS. If you live in Norwich, we would love to see you there.  

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Naveed Chaudhri

Head of Campaigns

Naveed Chaudhri is the Head of Campaigns. Naveed’s passion is to help build grassroots campaigns networks to increase public support for improving the lives of people in poor communities. Previously working at Oxfam and VSO, he has long experience managing activism and campaigning programmes,...

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