October 27, 2002 - New African: A dose of reality indeed - A response to Michael Maren

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, October 28, 2002 - 2:17 pm: Edit Post

A dose of reality indeed - A response to Michael Maren

Read and comment on this letter to the editor of New African disputing Kenya RPCV Michael Maren's critique of the Peace Corps and AID programs at:

A dose of reality indeed*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

A dose of reality indeed

The excerpt, A Dose of Reality (NA, july/Aug) by Michael Maren, the former Peace Corps volunteer, calls for a dose of reality from another former Peace Corps volunteer: me.

Are Aid schemes/projects perfect? Is the Peace Corps perfect and able to solve all problems? No way. Was it ever meant to be a universal solution? No, it was not.

Maren is outraged at his perceptions that there are deficiencies in Aid efforts. I am outraged that he used the Peace Corps and at least one NGO to get a free ride in Kenya and to get room, board and so-called insider material to write a book thrashing Aid efforts.

He says about his service with the Peace Corps: "I hadn't really thought much about why I was going to Africa. It probably had something to do with wanting to spend time in a tropical climate. Whatever reason I did have, I must admit that helping people was not high among them."

Maren misused the Peace Corps programme, wasted taxpayers money and took up the place of a volunteer who wanted to serve. He then, by his own admission, lied to get a job with the CRS in Kenya And now he writes a book full of shock, horror and moral outrage about Aid efforts.

His tale of deceit, selfishness and now pseudo moral superiority is part of the problem, not part of the solution. He should have just said no. Aid workers are not forced or marched into "colonial" bars and other tourist sites. Most Peace Corps volunteers have neither the money nor the lack of imagination to fall into a tourist hotel bar in a city and country with great local bars. That is a personal choice he made.

Maren's visits to the Norfolk Hotel verandah are not evidence of an institutional problem, it is a personal issue that he needs to address. "The road to hell"might be closer to home than Maren wants to admit.

Joan McKniff

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Speaking Out; COS - Kenya; COS - Somalia



By daniel halperin ( on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 3:20 pm: Edit Post

Does anyone know how to contact Michael Maren?

By Jason Welle (grosschem.dcaccess.net - on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 9:25 pm: Edit Post

If you're still paying attention, you could probably try contacting him through his publisher, The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster.

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