How a hospital ship made me FINALLY understand aid vs reparations

Last week I got suuuuuper fuckin’ excited because I got to climb aboard the Hospital ship from a ‘ highly developed/industrial/whatever you want to call it in your POLSCI 303 class’ country (that will henceforth remain un-named but will become increasingly apparent, I’m stepping on thin ice with this one) and finally see where all these extremely tall muscular men were embarking from. A leopard never changes it’s spots and a fuccgirl never changes her love of being an absolute menace.

The ship was incredible. We were only shown around a slither of it but it was many stories high and rose like a white, shining beacon from the ocean. The technology inside the hospital on board is immense: CT scans done in the middle of the ocean, wireless wifi connectable X-Ray machines, a dope barbershop where you can get a slick military buzz cut (pretty much all that you can get but they had a big screen so you could probably organise some sick movie nights in that bad boy).

I left feeling inspired; like I’d seen god and god was good. What a worthy mission! What a beautiful piece of engineering! What a handsome man who helped me back onto the smaller boat back to the island! (If you see this I know you’re here a couple days longer: what’s your name, number and star sign?)

Tonight, however, I was driving back from buying over priced pasta (I am the ULTIMATE PRIVILEGE HYPOCRITE I KNOW) and I saw the ship’s beaming lights across the water. Then it hit me. I finally understood the aid vs. reparations debate.

The aid vs. reparations debate basically goes like this: (I will do some research later in this piece for stats sake but usually I just like to spurt garbage so here goes) Aid is not stable or sustainable enough to make up for centuries of wrong doing from richer countries to poorer countries. Poorer countries should be paid reparations for richer countries wrong doings and use these to build up their own internal systems.

I finally understood the reparations argument whilst sipping a Bingtang alone at a restaurant hoping that people didn’t think I was waiting for a date who’d stood me up (I was really just waiting for takeaway which is much more reliable). Across the ocean there are these bright fuck-off lights whilst most Timorese people don’t have electricity for various reasons (unaffordable, inaccessible, no infrastructure, no upkeep etc etc).

This is not a dig at the staff aboard said ship or any other similar. They do a tremendous job working long hours, away from their families for long periods of time simply to provide help to those who are in need. This is a dig at a system.

The ship is a metaphor for Western aid in general- it floats out there for a short while, may offer some fantastic short term assistance and short term training but then chugs away taking it’s flashy technology with it. Reparations are needed in order to level the international playing fields. I believe that a lot of us know this, we just don’t WANT to know this. The basic concept of the macro Western human experience is that those in power want to keep everything the same (because it benefits them) whilst insisting that everything is changing JUST ENOUGH to keep the masses slightly satisfied and slightly above starving.

Too cynical? The route of this ship goes through Hawaii, Guam, Timor-Leste then on through Vietnam. In all of these countries the origin Western nation has committed atrocities of war, rape, colonialism, political indifference. These persist today economically, socially and politically. To use Timor-Leste as an example, this country and many other Western nations turned a blind eye when Indonesia invaded Timor-Leste. They endorsed the violent occupation for their own trade and political interests.

If Timor-Leste had not: lost between 100-200 thousand people during the occupation, most of working age; lost the ability to build up their own independent political system during colonialism and occupation; lost the ability to build up competitive industry for hundreds of years whilst others around them did just that; lost the small percent of the educated population that they had- because nobody bothered to build schools for hundreds of years- as they fled AND much more – don’t you think, richer Western nation, that they would have had a fairer shot? Had a bit more money in the bank?

We could have maybe made more of a combined effort to shut that shit down right?

The bright fuck-off lights of the ship are a floating flag of white guilt that comes too late and the people who work inside of it are used as photo ops for a government who needs another press release in it’s eternal campaign on convincing it’s own citizens that everything is moving toward world wide equality.

Yes, there is the argument that governments in poorer countries will not handle the money correctly. 1. This argument sounds a lot like when a man argues against feminism because he is inherently more rational. You’re not more rational buddy, you’ve just made up the rules that say that you are. 2. Considering how our states spend their money (I recently found out that Australia had a WAR against EMUS for Christ’s sake) let’s juuuuust take a seat.

The tone of this post suggests that I should also pack up and leave so let’s do a trade wealthy Western nations, I will begrudgingly set foot on your boat with all those good looking Navy men (somebody save me from this fate?) and you can pay what you owe as well as leaving behind the medical technology in the Dili National Hospital (more will soon be bought for all districts of course and more hospitals will be built- structurally sound and functional).

Yeah, didn’t think I was worth it either.

 

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How a hospital ship made me FINALLY understand aid vs reparations

love story

You’ll hold me like a flower petal and learn to count on hearing my breath when I’m lying next to you,

You don’t see it now- it’s only a first kiss- but trust me, it’ll happen.

 

I’ll see the good in you for the first week, you taste new and strange

But then the dismay sets in

The second week is like constantly inhaling smoke,

Eye rolls and supressed coughs

I’m panicking

Laughing manically

Fucking hell

It’s happening again.

 

love story