Emotionally I'm way out of my depth. I'm just a smart-alec comedian who wants to try and help. (Or do I just like the idea?) Now the teenagers have trickled back, cheated of innocence and bringing with them their trauma and children born in slavery. Some seem dead behind the eyes, but physically alert and ready to fight or run at a moment's notice. Soon after we arrive I'm asked to entertain about 80 youths, who don't speak English and have been waiting two hours in the sun for 'the internationally famous comedian' to make them laugh. This could go wrong.
Financial inclusion has become a buzzword for governments intent on tackling poverty and inequality among their citizens. India's Prime Minister Modi just announced that he wants to end 'financial untouchability' with an ambitious target to provide most households with a bank account in a matter of months.
The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
Rwanda, the 'Land of a Thousand Hills' has luscious green peaks that stretch out as far as your eyes can see. But this beautiful scenery masks a terrible period in the country's history. In 1994, a brutal genocide tore Rwanda apart. Thousands of families were murdered, livelihoods were destroyed and many orphans were left to take care of their brothers and sisters. I recently travelled there to see how some of the money raised by Sport Relief and matched by the UK government is already hard at work, changing the lives of people who lost almost everything 20 years ago.
Disability, infertility, being shunned by your community and in the worst case even death: these are just some of the terrifying risks women expose themselves to when they have an unsafe abortion. Yet every year 21.6 million women, 99% of them in the developing world, are so desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy that they will quite literally risk their lives.
$192 billion a year is being taken out of Africa by the rich world - almost six and a half times the amount of 'aid' it receives... Africa is not poor, but its people are being kept in poverty by a combination of inequitable policies, huge disparities in power, and criminal activities perpetuated and sustained by wealthy elites.
We can't escape the fact that throughout history countries are most carbon-intense and least sustainable on their way to becoming rich; not when they get there. So if the message to developing countries is that they are not allowed to develop in the same way as rich countries developed... are we sure that they will sign up to this?
It took me a week to get used to the environment, as even though I liked the food, I struggled to eat much, though I soon got my appetite back to its usual size once I had adjusted to the climate and my malaria pills. Anyway despite my lack of energy I still enjoyed the quick intro into PADI (I found that I was at a slight advantage as I had already started working through the book).
The Global Partnership for Education brought together governments and donors at its Replenishment Conference in Brussels last week. While donors fell short of the $3.5 billion target, governments stepped up to the mark. These governments will now need to work on mobilizing more domestic resources in order to make sure they meet their commitments.