In Mali, where Plan International is working, there are numerous cases of how children are haunted by the mere sound of military vehicles. Marita is one such child. The first time anyone knew that she was suffering the after-effects of the conflict in northern Mali was when an ambulance passed by. She suddenly screamed, dashed across the yard into her house and hid in a corner shaking...
Last week I found myself speaking out against the government's Big Society Capital launch. Not because I wish to stand in the way of new funding mechanisms but because I know from experience what it takes to make a charity a viable, investable prospect.
The prime minister's Big Society was supposed to be the key initiative that would bring together every policy area within the Conservative Manifesto. It was an underpinning philosophy that could be used to rebuild communities, allow for the reshaping of various public services, and above all demonstrate that the Tories were able to be compassionate.
As the manager of a charitable fund people often comment that it must be a little like playing God. Certainly I've had responses from unsuccessful applicants telling me that my decision will result in children starving, which is not the kind of message anyone wants to see in their inbox. But how do you choose which projects to fund and who to help?
As it stands for now we are going to have to watch a public funded body blow millions on what will probably be commercial failures at the box office in order to fulfil some kind of colonialist ideology that we can impress the world with giant British productions that are purely made to stand up to whatever sequel or remake Hollywood has released that week.