One of my favourite Oxfam programmes is called (rather arcanely) ‘Within and Without the State’(WWS). It is trying to build civil society and good governance in some pretty unpromising environments – Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and OPTI (Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel).
Yemen, Republic of
Inspired. That's how I felt after reading Profiles in Blogging, a new report published by the Center for International Media Assistance that examines how bloggers around the world practice their craft. Christopher Connell, an independent writer, editor, and photographer who was also former bureau chief for the Associated Press in Washington, provides a window into the experience of eight bloggers from Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Ghana, Yemen, Philippines, China, and Cuba. He provides an interesting narrative about each blogger, noting their important role in filling information gaps and their evolution into influential bloggers. He also examines how these bloggers find their audiences, the obstacles they face in practicing their craft, and, most inspiring (as least in my view), what motivates them.
Sometimes you see a set of human beings in action and you say to yourself: these are far braver souls than I am. That has been my reaction to the astonishing efforts of thousands of active citizens in countries like Libya, Yemen and Syria over the last several months. These hardy souls have kept up a struggle for a different set of governance arrangements where they live...knowing full well that each day they participate they are likely to be beaten, arrested or killed. Yet they have kept it up, day after day, week after week, month after month. In Libya, help came from the skies above, but citizens have still had to do the heavy lifting. They still are.