Required Reading

I’ve been in a couple of these lists so far, and it’s high time I returned the favour.

Blogs that have become as essential to my morning routine as English breakfast tea with skim milk and one sugar:

Humanitarian Relief: Michael Kleinman’s Change.org blog is not only a great place to look for updates on major humanitarian crises, but also a salon for aid workers and aspiring aid workers to share their stories and reflect on the ups, downs and controversies of their work. Kleinman’s rumble with Michelle at Stop Genocide was epic, and, reflected the schism between many supporters of the ICC’s arrest warrant, and many of those working on the ground to stanch the bleeding day to day.

Wronging Rights: Honestly, who doesn’t get exicted when Amanda and Kate update? Their posts on human rights, humanitarian crises, and activism are always funny, smart, and refreshingly tart food for thought. No campaign or organization is too sacred for Amanda and Kate to call out for acts of buffoonery, and that’s just one reason why they’re awesome. I actually daydream about Wronging Rights holding city and regional reader meet-ups, like Jezebel’s “Cocktails and Dreams.” Only, with WR, it would be intelligent, and called something like, “Joint Criminal Enterprise, Laurent Nkunda Jokes, and Irish Car Bombs.” Dare to dream, Transitionland, dare to dream. But seriously, the WR girls are great. Just today, Amanda messaged me: “hey, do you have a favorite extrajudicial killing?”  Pure WIN.

Global Health: Honestly, Alanna’s posts are probably the only reason I’ll pass my epidemiology class. Alanna doesn’t need my endorsement, though. She’s a blogging superstar.

Hamesha: How to describe Hamesha? For starters, it’s written by a guy who went to college in the US before returning to his native Afghanistan to work in (from what I’ve gleamed, correct me if I’m wrong, my anonymous friend) some kind of economic development organization. I give that context first, because the author’s background would otherwise be difficult to discern. Hamesha is a repository for the author’s vividly-rendered dreams and nightmares, reflections on Afghan politics and society, insomniac ramblings, creative writing, honest rants about the everyday aggravations of work, and, as they say, much,  much more. (Most of the posts are in English, but quite a few are in Dari, and I get the sense that much context is lost on me in those Dari posts. Nevertheless, as an English-only reader, I thoroughly enjoy Hamesha.) Bonus: a vision of cyberpunk Kabul, circa 2079, when only the French retain their native tongue and Afghan politicians wage their battles through prize-fighter proxies.

Captain Cat’s Diaries: The diary of an English-Czech woman working as a UN political affairs officer in Gardez, Afghanistan. Beautifully written, and full of humour and heartbreak. Cat’s writing captures the feeling of isolation and small acts of beauty and kindness just so.

The Thirsty Palmetto: Written by an American expat living and working in South Sudan. Caustic, saucy, and blunt. For example (on aid workers expelled from Sudan): “One woman, understandably drunk and raucous, saw the long long visa line (anyone who’s ever flown into Nairobi knows what I mean) and shouted out ‘There should be a special line for people who have been PNG’d’ (PNG means persona non grata, kicked out of a country) and god bless the Kenyans, they did it. “

Harry Rud: A British expat working in Kabul, Harry casts a slightly cynical eye on development work, but obviously loves it nonetheless. My favourite Harry Rud post is about dancing to bad music in basements.

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Ok, back to work.

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