Roman Polanski was recently arrested in Switzerland over a crime committed  in the USA way back in 1978. The world of film has vowed to stand by him and many have signed a petition to have him released.

What has caught my attention in all this was a radio interview I heard the other day in which the views of ordinary Swiss and US folk were solicited.

Those in USA were of the view  that regardless of what time has elapsed the Swiss authorities were right to arrest Polanski whilst those in Switzerland were of the view that, it was wrong to arrest Polanski especially given the time taht has  elapsed and he should released immediately.

A comment from a Swiss woman stood out for me in particular she said,

Switzerland tolerates terrible crimes all the time why are the authorities so fussed about an incident that is over 30 years old?

An interesting if not curious statement to make, and what sprung to mind was all the money that the corrupt african leaders have reportedly hidden in secret Swiss accounts over the years, whilst their country folk  die of hunger!

Is this what the Swiss woman was referring to?  I don’t know for sure but I certainly wondered.

So is it right that  Swiss banks should if it is true allow African leaders to steal from their countries and hide their loot in the Swiss bank vaults? If Africans asked the Swiss authorities to return this loot would they?

Should Switzerland be focusing on this instead of a crime committed in 1978 in which the victim has since dropped the charges?

My answer is of course not, abuse of any sort should not be tolerated  regardless of the amount of time that has elapsed.

However the Swiss authorities need to be more consistent in their approach as opposed to being selective as to which crimes they will prosecute

This question has been on my mind for sometime now. Due to the current economic environment we have struggled to get volunteers from the traditional sources to out to our project in SW Uganda. I did wonder if Africa could tap into the skills and knowledge on the ground?

The other reason this is on my mind is that the Obama administration’s policy toward Africa appears to be one of tough love. You the Africans have to get your house in order, you need to start trading with each are some of the messages that have come from both Obama and Clinton. I wholly subcribe to that kind of thinking.

I would wonder therefore if folk on the ground will rise to the challenge and form their own NGO’s for instance. Whilst thinking about this idea of “Africa growing its won volunteers” I do wonder too whether it is a question of how voluntary work is organised in Africa. Africans families tend to be very large (extended) and every one helps out including whole villages when required. However voluntary in the western world appears to be orgnaised in what I would describe as a formal structure.

But what about Africans in the diaspora, Could they take time out to go and volunteer in their countries of origin? Certainly this is something that the Department for International development (DFID) is keen to encourage so much so that they have joined forces with the VSO and come up with a whole programmes to encourage Africans in the diaspora to volunteer. I am however not sure how well publicised this programme is.

Have you got a view on this either way? Are you an African that has participated in the VSO diaspora programme? If so how did you find it?

If you are an African that would like to volunteer would you know where to start?

Would you be interested in your views

Voluntary Work was the subject of at least two BBC radio 4 programmes yesterday.  The first YOU and YOURS a consumer programme considered all manner of issues relating to voluntary work including Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, the other PM considered the issue of Internship/Interns.

Interesting these days it si not enough to want to volunteer, you have to  have  an enhanced CRB, not quite sure what that stand for, but in lay mans’ lingo, it is a Police check to ensure that you do not have criminal records and will not pose a danger to children, and vulnerable adults!

Corporate Social Responsibility has become increasingly a vital part of many companies activities  with most companies “wanting to be seen to being doing their bit for the community” and folk in the developing nations have in part benefited form this  too, but interestingly some companies “contract their CSR out” and this doesn’t make much sense to me but hey who am I to argue with them?

It was interesting to note that whilst some Interns find this a valuable experience and indeed some have gone on to great jobs as a result if not planned properly it may well turn into a disappointment. An MP that was interviewed for the programme suggested that Interns should be paid as they do great work and without them some politicians, media groups would not function without them and to make matters worse prospective employers expect job applicants to have done  some kind of Internship. The hard/moral question that was posed was whether young people from poorer families could participate in the  Internship programmes without any pay for a whole year.

Although I have previously written about my own experiences as a volunteer, yesterdays programmes got me thinking about the numbers of times most of  us volunteer our time (especially) without being aware of it!

In my line of work for instance I get called on to speak my work or my experiences to an interested audience and often this is unpaid. I must admit hat following past experiences I do weigh up what I have to gain and if it doesn’t add up the I iwll not  give my time.

As dear old Jim Rohn says, you have to make people deserve your time
What really constitutes volunteering, If you go out to Africa for what ever period of time, are you on an extended holiday or are you volunteering?

Are you are volunteer? What are your experiences as a volunteer or as an intern?

How generous are you with your time and money?