What is your role or relationship with CESO?
How long have you been working or volunteering at CESO?
Three and a half years
What motivates you to work or volunteer at CESO?
I enjoy staying professionally and intellectually active and useful, and getting to know people from other areas of the world through working together. Additionally, having worked as a consultant in international development, I enjoy volunteering in countries that were generous enough to go into debt to pay me for past work.
What is your most memorable experience or memory of CESO?
The work I have been doing for CESO for almost two years with the Tin Tua Association of Fada N’Gourma in Burkina Faso has been remarkable. This is a regional literacy teaching organization that trains and supports the creation of micro-businesses. All of its actions rely on the human resources in that area. In fact, there are hardly any other resources to speak of, with the exception of a bit of water. Tin Tua is in Gurmancéma, which appropriately translates to, “let us develop ourselves.” According to Mr. Benoit Ouoba, president of the executive board, “what differentiates the desert from the garden is not water, but man.”
Economic development is important because…
Thanks to CESO, I work in Tin Tua with people who need to earn a bit of money in order to facilitate their daily chores, give the girls the freedom to go to school and ensure that everyone is healthy and nutritionally secure. This is economic development and it suits me perfectly. It’s very different from the Western world’s understanding of economic development, which has been depicted — in accordance with recent trends — as the main objective of all societies, the universal panacea that, incidentally, works to enrich a few rich people at the expense of the environment and those who are poor.
What advice would you give to other Volunteer Advisors?
After 30 years as a consultant in international development, I am beginning to be able to listen to people, to trust them, and to only share what could be useful. For me, this — in additional to having a thorough knowledge of one’s professional field of expertise — is what is important in order to advise.
Would you like to add anything else?
There are advantages to using volunteers instead of paid advisors. When the advisor is not paid, it is a little easier for them to avoid doing work for the client rather than teaching them, or sell the client the moon. If, on the other hand, you are paid for your work as an advisor, the more you do for and even in place of the client, the more you will earn. So one goes on and on dazzling the client with knowledge, forms on glazed paper, PowerPoints and sophisticated plans, and ends up encumbering the client by creating roadblocks,