March 10, 2010

I’m supposed to be happy.  We are back in NZ, have finally found and moved into a cute little house near the centre of town.  I love being back in my academic community, where I have my desk in a corner cubicle by the windows in a 3rd floor office with a view of trees and gardens.  I have almost all my research data in and am almost ready to write. I love that my daughter can now take dance classes and has settled right back into childcare like she never left (as her teacher said – only with more confidence!). I love that she has a school to go to – a good one, close, and one where friends will be. I love coffees and wine and plums and supermarkets and vege gardens and cheese and free buses.

But I’m not particularly happy.  I’m feeling very unsettled and I’m struggling to pinpoint why.

While I knew I would miss certain things about Honduras (the finca, the culture, the friends, the food) I didn’t really expect that I would feel so much like I left part of my heart there. I just feel like something is really missing.  I feel sad for family friends that I know are missing us.  I feel sad that my daughter and husband are missing their friends and the lifestyle they really enjoyed there.  We had become a part of a very special community and we just don’t know when we’ll be able to go back.

I had been looking forward to coming home and getting settled. But settling down is scary. As I unpack our boxes and set up a house I am not enjoying it as I thought I would be. This is permanent. We are not travelling again anytime soon. After a month of planes and hotels and staying in other people’s homes I had thought I had had enough of travelling but the idea of not travelling (by travelling I mean spending weeks or months or years in different places) for a long time, of not know when we might travel again is actually very sad. I had said that the next trip won’t be Honduras, I want to explore other parts of the globe, but it makes me feel even sadder not knowing when we might be back in Honduras.

I don’t really know what the future holds. I have said we will now stay put until the thesis is done. Thats a lot of work. It will be at the very minimum a year, possibly 18 months, hopefully not 2 years.  Then I need to find work. Where? What? Move? I don’t want to move. I’m not ready to stay. The future should be promising at this point but after all the disappointments and set backs of the last decade I’m not as optomistic as I used to be. Would it be easier to settle down if I knew we would have jobs and income? If I knew I could write this thesis in 6 months and get on with it? On with what?

So settling back into life in NZ feels unsettled. Cultural adjustment issues. Missing Honduras issues. Future worries. I should have but didn’t anticipate this. But the journey continues and I now must keep on. Keep smiling. Keep working. Maybe eventually my mind and my heart will catch up with my body and I’ll settle.


As I finish up my work here in Honduras and look towards our return to New Zealand next month, I have been thinking more and more about the logistics of finding a new home and getting settled again. While it is tempting to rush in and enjoy all the conveniences I have missed over the past 7 months (a big fridge! a real stove! my little espresso machine!) being in Honduras has taught me that it is actually not difficult to live with few pocessions and basic bathroom and cooking facilities (although I’m completely over sharing them with ants, spiders, scorpions and centepedes!).  The post “Need” and the Standard of Living on the Sociological Images blog (and the original slide show Planet Slum) also help to remind me that what I ‘need’ is not always a need. What I do need, as I start the process of setting up a new home, is to think more carefully about the resources I am using.  What do we really, actually need, what are the luxuries I really genuinely love and which make our lives more pleasant and enjoyable, and what are the ‘needs’ that we can do without.

I guess you could call this a reveal, or a coming out. I’ve carefully and deliberately kept this blog apolitical for what I considered to be very good reasons, but those reasons don’t seem to be making much sense any longer, and I don’t want to keep quiet about it anymore.

On June 28, when Zelaya was removed from office and flown out of the country I has only been back in Honduras for a couple of weeks.  I was out of touch with the political climate and atmosphere in the country, and felt I didn’t know enough about Honduran politics to have an educated opinion.  In addition I was here primarily to do research and didn’t want to risk compromising that.  However over the past 3 months I have watched, listened and discussed the events unfolding and my initial neutrality has given way to open support for the resistencia.   Here’s why.

  • I don’t trust MichelettiWhile there has been ample discussion of Zelaya’s sins in the traditional media here in Honduras, and in online media, I have been surprised at how little  talk there has been regarding Micheletti and others in the defacto government.  Without even having to look into the past, or at the accusations of death squads and violent repression, it is easy to see actions that are far from ethical. The manner of Zelaya’s illegal removal from the country (even coup supporters will admit that now), the faked resignation letter, the forced closure of pro-Zelaya media outlets, the overkill of a nation-wide 48 hour curfew… none of this is the behavior of an honest and responsible democratic government.  With accusations of disappearing money and the selling off of grain reserves, one has to wonder what is actually happening behind the scenes.
  • The constitutionMaybe it is because I come from a country without a codified constitution, or maybe it is just because I am not a political or legal scholar, but the constitutional arguments don’t convince me.  The Honduran constitution has been bent backwards and forwards by both sides to try and support their position, and as a result it is perhaps no wonder Oscar Arias called the Honduran constitution the worst in the world.  While that might be an overstatement, from what I can tell the constitution appears to have hindered, rather than helped the democratic process.  A constitution that has articles that simply cannot be altered, and that make it difficult or even impossible for the people to instigate change, is at best a dinosaur, and at worst repressive of future generations.  Additionally, while the argument for Zelaya’s removal rests on the importance of upholding the constitution, it wasn’t a problem for the Micheletti government to suspend constitutional civil rights it on Zelaya’s return, indeed it seems to be becoming a major problem for them to reinstate them.
  • Misinformation, disinformationControl of the media seems to be one of the key strategies of Michelitti’s government. Certainly here within Honduras it is difficult to find any traditional media outlets not endlessly repeating the governments line and pro-Zelaya outlets have been shut down for inciting rebellion and uprising.  However I find it hard to believe that this was done in the public’s interest, as in several days of watching Canal 57 (Cholusat) near continuously my husband and I did not once hear Zelaya call for violence, although he did call his supporters to Tegucigalpa for peaceful protest.  We also did hear many callers describing the violent and repressive actions of the police and military in their neighbourhoods.  Characterising pro-Zelaya media outlets as inciters of violence allowed the regime to shut them down, and to shut down any reports that were not favorable to their regime. Again, this is not the actions of a democratic and enlightened government.I am also comfortably certain that the pro-coup media’s characterisation of Zelaya supporters as violent thugs, paid mercenaries or ignorant and uneducated is not correct.  While my academic background leads me to be highly suspicious of anecdotal evidence (and yes this post is full of it), this characterisation has not been my experience or observation. The resistence includes people from all walks of life. The Zelaya supporters I’ve met include grandmothers, small business owners and farmers. While I don’t deny there has been violence I don’t believe there is a simple “they are bad” explanation. For example in mid-July my husband had an interesting conversation with  a young street kid in Tegucigalpa who had no political interest (or knowledge) but who had joined the pro-Zelaya marches with his friends and thrown stones at the police for the fun of it.   More recently, on 21 Sept when Zelaya returned to Honduras, I spent the day watching TV footage of peaceful, happy Zelaya supporters outside the Brazilian Embassy, later I was saddened to watch scenes of chaos in that same street as the police and army moved in.  The violence is not necessarily endorsed, nor perpetrated by Zelaya or the resistance.

    Another example of misinformation from the media and many pro-coup commentators is that most of Honduras is supportive of Micheletti and the new government.  Again at risk of being accused of using anecdotal evidence, I have to say the majority of Hondurans my husband and I have spoken to are either pro-Zelaya or are ambivalent.  More convincingly, last week poll results from the authorized polling agency for the Honduran elections were released, which showed only 17.4% were in favor of the June 28 ousting of Zelaya, and 52.7% against. Interestingly I don’t think this poll was reported in the newpapers here.

  • The root of the crisis is fearSocialist, communist, dictator… there was , and is, a strong fear that Zelaya was going to usher in an era of Chavez-style politics to Honduras.  I am less interested in whether or not he was going to do that (and I’m not convinced he would have been able to anyway) than I am in the underlying fear of the left that drove Micheletti and co to desperate measures.  This fear is reflected throughout the pro-coup media and blogosphere, and I have been very frustrated over the past months reading posts and articles endlessly misusing the terms socialist and communist, and misunderstanding left wing politics and the rise of the left in Latin America. The United States has done very well promoting a right-wing, market-oriented form of development, and at vilifying all other approaches.  To read some of the pro-coup postings on the web is to step back to the cold war and to feel the fear of communism, ironically a communism that Zelaya was far far away from implementing. Talking to the poor, raising the minimum wage, convening a national constituent assembly… this is not communism, nor even socialism.  But it was enough for the elites and business community to feel threatened.
  • This is no changeFollowing on from the above – this was a clearly a coup to protect the status quo, not for change.  The coup leaders have vested interest in maintaining Honduras the way it was.  Michelettistas don’t like the term oligarchy, and would love to contest the idea that Honduras is run by just 10 families, but they can’t deny that the coup leaders are largely from the social class that had the most to loose from a change to the left. The coup was a means of retaining, rather than taking power. I don’t believe they were thinking of the good of the country, or of the poor when they took the actions they did, but rather of saving their position and power, and their businesses. The coup does not represent a fresh start for Honduras, but the ability for Honduras to continue with business as usual.  It means business as usual for the poor, selling candy on the street, picking someone else’s coffee, buying just a few tortillas with a little salt to feed their children.

So this is why I support the resistencia. Not because I think Zelaya is wonderful.  He’s not.  Not because I think Micheletti is evil, although I am very worried about what he is up to.  Because I want to align myself with the poor, with those that don’t have a voice, with those that will loose whoever wins the political battle.  I support the resistencia because I see this as an opening to begin a conversation about a Honduras that works for all, about what real change would mean.  Not a change controlled by the elite for their own benefit, but one where all Hondurans get a voice.

If you want to read more about the Honduran crisis (in English), I can recommend the following thoughtful and insightful blogs:

Honduras Coup 2009 – “Responses to the Coup d’etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.”

Quotha – Anthropologist Adrienne Pine posts online field notes and first-hand accounts of the coup from Hondurans.

Hermano Juancito

Carne con Frijol

El  Cinquito

While I should really be planning interviews, transcribing or otherwise engaged with my research work, I’ve been distracted this morning by a foray into the world of aid worker blogs, and specifically an ongoing conversation about the role, or non-role, of expatriate volunteers in aid projects.  This is a topic I have a great interest in – being central to both my Masters and PhD research, and to my own experience as a wanna-be volunteer.

It started with a single tweet from @SarahMDC:   “Good dig at some of the muky issues surrounding international dev #volunteers + volunteer projects http://digg.com/u18jMS“.  The link is to Tales From the Hood, and the post is the final in a series on international volunteers.  I found myself nodding in agreement with the post as it reflected my own academic scepticism of international volunteers, particilarly short term ones.  It set me thinking once again about my reasons for pursuing post-graduate study in development, and for choosing my research topic.

Here’s an abridged excerpt from some work I did last year on international volunteering:

Despite mounting evidence of the altruistic nature, and global popularity of international volunteering, I remained in a critical frame of mind.  Much of the literature surrounding volunteering for development is explicitly positive, identifying it is something that can potentially shape such new thinking and help to ‘humanise’ globalisation (Lewis, 2005, p. 15).  However I was reading with the eyes of a cynic, and found that not only was it easy to find literature that highlighted the problems with international volunteering, it seemed the critiques overshadowed the positivity.

The first criticism is the related to altruism.  While volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, in most cases there is considerable benefit to the volunteer, perhaps even more than to the community or hosts.  Benefits to the volunteer include personal development, enhanced career prospects, friendship and adventure . This criticism is strengthened by the lack of research on the impacts on communities, who arguably may in fact be adversely affected as they spend time, energy and resources to accommodate the volunteer. This argument is particularly directed at volunteer tourism, where programmes may be explicitly developed for, or marketed to tourists rather than being developed from and for the community to be served.

In addition to this, while one of the purported benefits of international volunteering is the development of cross-cultural appreciation and understanding, research suggests that it may actually have the reverse effect, reinforcing stereotypes and actively promoting an image of a ‘third world other’ that is dominated an ‘us and them’ mindset…  The ‘us and them’ mentality is reinforced by the inherent inequality of the volunteer experience, where “the processes that allow young westerners to access the financial resources, and moral imperatives, necessary to travel and volunteer in a ‘third world country’, are the same as the ones that make the reverse process almost impossible” (Simpson, 2004).

International volunteering is also criticised as the volunteers come from outside the host community, with limited skills, experience, and understanding of the local context.  My research on short term, volunteer medical missions was very critical on this point, arguing that language and cultural differences, inadequate resources and time, and a lack of local knowledge significantly limits what the volunteers could do and often results in poor medical care.  (Other studies have found that short term volunteers programmes may) encourage the (false) view that development is a simple matter, and something which can be ‘done’ by non-skilled, but enthusiastic volunteer-tourists.

Another criticism is that international volunteering cultivates dependency.  A host community may become dependent on volunteers and voluntary programmes when these are promoted at the expense of longer term or community driven initiatives.  Dependency is also fostered when volunteers undermine the dignity of communities with handouts.  In addition Western volunteers can be seen as ‘modelling’ a lifestyle of cultural and material values that may be inappropriate, and which promotes modernisation, or development as westernisation.

All of these are reflected in the significant criticism of neo-colonialism.  This criticism… is reinforced by claims that volunteer programmes are built on the structures of colonialism (Smith & Elkin, 1980), use developing countries as training grounds for future professionals (Raymond & Hall, 2008) and are modelling a Western way of living (Roberts; Simpson, 2004).  At it’s extreme, is the argument that international volunteers are a form of Northern imperialism, as their activities boost Northern Government interests rather than tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice (Devereux, 2008).

This excerpt is part of a larger piece that explores both the positive and critical literature on international volunteering, and expands on the ideas as they apply to my research (probably not so interesting to blog readers!). It ends on a more hopeful note, one that is looking forward, looking for ways in which the passion and skills of wanna-be volunteers  (like myself 10 years ago) can be harnessed in ways that are mutually beneficial and constructive; and in which Westeners can learn about the reality of life in other parts of the world in way that break down rather than reinforce stereotypes.  I find it interesting that this is actually the starting place for the series from Tales From the Hood:

Appropriate, structured cultural exchange can be a very positive thing.This, I think, is an important starting place…  We blame lack of having traveled and lack of awareness and understanding of international issues for everything from Third World Poverty to the fact the George W. Bush initiated the Iraq war. But then, when someone has the idea of taking some ordinary citizens from “here” and letting them see what it’s like “over there”, we’re very quick to pick them apart for that. And perhaps in some cases, rightly so. But we ourselves offer no alternatives.

We need an accepted mechanism for exposing aid-work-outsiders. Our work is critical. It is (or should be) making a difference…
But we need a way to meaningfully and appropriately expose our work to our third audience: ordinary people in our home countries. I’m not saying development tourism is the answer. But it’s one possibility.

I guess I have taken this as my challenge.  I’m not sure whether my PhD study will find any definitive answers (actually I’m quite sure it won’t) but I know the questions will continue to haunt me in my future career, be it academic or in practice.

For now I really need to get back to work.  There will be no answers without actually doing some research.

Some other good posts on the issue:
Good intentions are not enough (series on guidelines for international volunteers)
Aid Watch

Next post – back to the non-drama of living and doing research during a (non-?) coup!

Letters> emails> facebook>…?

February 12, 2009

I have just picked up the book causewired from the library, which although not an academic book, looks very interesting.  Flicking through it I was struck by how rapidly the field of charity/ fundraising/ social causes is changing.  The internet, and in particular web 2.0 applications, is having an immense impact on the way in which we “Get involved” and “Change the World”.  My own experience reflects this.

In 1996, when I was 21 and looking to use my nursing training overseas I sat down and wrote a pile of letters to various charities, missions and NGOs.  Although I was aware of the Internet I was not a regular user, did not have an email address and would not have known how to find the email addresses of organisations even if I did – or they had them!  So I typed my letters on a word processor, printed them and posted them.  I recieved a lot of replies, all letters with glossy (and not-so-glossy) brochures, and sifted through them to find which ones interested me.  
If I had wanted to do the same thing 5 years later, in 2001  I would have spent an afternoon online, searching websites and emailing those organisations that caught my eye.  In fact I did.  Searching for organisations to work with for my Master’s research took days of online searches and emailing.
Today, in 2009, it would be different again.  In addition to surfing organisational websites I could join any number of Facebook cause groups, surf the blogs (and comment or email with questions!) of those already volunteering, and sign up to any number of volunteer recruitment sites to find the latest opportunities anywhere on the globe. I don’t have to ask for “further information”, it’s already there.  I could even sign up online.
When I wrote a research pre-proposal for my current (PhD) research in 2007, the network I am working with had a static website, yahoo forums and a conference.  Over the past year it has added Facebook groups, and the website has a new semi-interactive features and an increased number of videos. I also know from my first interviews that there are plans afoot to utilise social networking applications further.
This all makes me wonder where things will be at when I finish my PhD in 2-3 years.  On the positive side, I at least know my topic is current, and will be of interest and relevance to many.  On the other hand I wonder if it will already be dated.  In the time it takes to research and write, how far will things move on?   It will certainly be interesting to see!


January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I am doing the new year’s thing, taking a quiet few minutes to look back over my blog from the past year (sparse as it is), reflect on the year that was and think ahead to the year to come.  

From my 2008 New Year post:

So what about 2008?  I’ve not made any resolutions or non-resolutions this time. To be honest between being a mum, working and planning a PhD  I haven’t had the time or head space to think about it.  Any goals I have for them moment revolve around the PhD.  I have set myself the somewhat ambitious task of getting through the first year’s work (full proposal and literature review) before September so that we can go to Honduras to do a Spanish school and attend a conference.

This means I will be working very hard for a while.  But not at the expense of my family.  I guess my real goal for the year is to get this PhD underway while continuing to be the best mum and wife I can be.  Lets hope I can be at least as sucessful this year as I was in 2007- I can’t afford not to be.

So how did 2008 measure up?  Well I certainly didn’t complete the full years work before September (that was overly ambitious!) but I have done a fair chunk of it and was able to get to the conference, do a couple of weeks of spanish classes and even start some early interviews and data collection.  The study is very much on track.

Although I don’t think I blogged about it I was quite worried going into 2008 about how my daughter would handle the changes- moving towns, Mummy doing full time study, starting childcare and travel.  But she was amazing.  We had a few hiccups settling her into childcare (“I want Mummy to stay with me…”) but she’s now going happily 3 days per week (4 days from next week…).  I do find I need to work on the balance and make sure we have plenty of Mummy time, or she gets very clingy, but overall we seem to have found a good balance.

I’m not sure if I have found much balance with my long-suffering husband, and feel like I failed him a little this year.  Once again health problems have limited his ability to complete his studies or find regular work.  He is a wonderful Dad and I honestly don’t know if I would have made much progress on the PhD if he hadn’t been available to pick up most of the childcare and home responsibilities but thinking about that too much only makes me feel more guilty. I really hope this year is the one in which he finally is able to make some progress on his own dreams.

So what are my goals for 2009?

Obviously I want to make significant progress on the PhD- complete the confirmation procedures in February which means finishing the proposal and literature reviews, and then get into the data collection.  This will require about 6 months in Honduras, as well as significant amounts of online research.  By the end of the year I’d like to have the data collection completed, analysis underway and be thinking about some serious writing.

This means another year of hard work and travel.  It also means another year of changes and instability for my daughter and makes things tricky for my husband.  While there is not much I can do about his health except hope and pray, I approach this year more cautiously as I am much more aware now of just how messed up things can get.  I really don’t have any answers and can only keep trying to support him in the best way I can. I suspect this year may become one of investigation and planning as we think about where we want to settle and what we want to do as a family long term.

2008 was also year of spiritual exploration and contemplation as I strayed far futher from the faith I grew up in than I would ever have expected.  I am long past searching for definative answers but will be continuing the journey in 2009.  While much of my life seems set to follow I predictable plan this year this is one area which remains quite blank. Which is very exciting and a bit scary.  

Finally, this post also marks the 2-year anniversary of this blog!  While I haven’t always posted regularly (being a Mum and a PhD student doesn’t leave much spare time for writing blog posts), I like having the outlet to share the things that are on my mind. So, if there are any readers left out there, thanks for reading.  I wish you all the best for the new year, and may this year be one where you too make progress towards reaching your own castles in the sky.

Bye Grandad

August 4, 2008

I started this year with three living grandparents.  Now I have one.  Earlier in the year my Nana (maternal) passed away.  My paternal Grandad passed away last week.

I”m feeling a bit crushed by it all.  Although I wasn’t especially close to my Grandad I am feeling the loss more than I did with my Nana. Maybe it is because I’m feeling the loss of both.  A whole generation lost.  I know it is that time of life- Grandad was in his 90’s- but I wish I had been able to spend more time with them.  I wonder what they would have been able to teach me.

I guess not knowing Grandad well is part of my grief.  My memories of him are unfortunately mostly of a grumpy old man (quiet while I’m watching the cricket, who clogged the shower drain with all that hair… and at my wedding… it’s too cold, can we go).  I do remember him laughing and smiling, but it seemed to get rarer as time went on. I wish I’d taken the time to get to know the man he was.

The other reason for my sadness is that he wasn’t Christian.  Of course, this does not bother me as much as it would have in the past, in fact it doesn’t really bother me at all.  What makes me sad is how much I know it bothers my Dad and other Christian members of the family. What can you say to people who have such strong conservative views about where non-Christians end up.  Trying to deal with that belief, along with the grief of loss must be agonising.

So the funeral is on Thursday.  I’ll be flying to Christchurch on Wednesday.  I’m not really looking forward to it but know I need to be there for my family.  And I want to be there.  To say good-bye.  And hopefully to spend a little time with my only surviving grandparent.

Today was very enjoyable and I thought I’d post here about it- if for no other reason than to remind myself of what I like about being a PhD student on those days when I wonder why I ever started this journey.

I was up early this morning and enjoyed the sunny, clear morning air (despite the frosty cold) on my walk to the university. I left early as I had some prep to do before my first tutorial of the semester. The class is a first year (undergrad) development studies course called “Rich World Poor World”. It went well. The class was mostly already there when I arrived 10 minutes early and participated well in discussions on “what is development” and “can development be measured”. Of course after years of study I think have even less idea about what development is than I did when I was in thier place, but it’s good to get people starting to think critically about thier assumptions about the world and our place in it.

After that I spent some time answering emails, arranging meetings and trying to organise accomodation for our trip to Honduras in September, which I am starting to get quite excited about.

Then I had a meeting with a PhD reading group we are starting up- lunch, hot chocolate and nearly 2 hours discussing post-development theories and politics. Sounds dry and boring? It wasn’t. Trust me!

Then back to my desk for a couple of hours writing, trying to sort out my ideas on international volunteering and volunteer tourism, being hopeful about the potential while not ignoring the pitfalls.

And then the walk home. Not a stunningly special day, nor even particularly exciting. But it is such a priviledge to have the space to explore new ideas and to share them with others. To often at work and in daily life we get caught up in the routine and in what needs to be done. To be able to think- that to me is a joy.

A black sheep

June 25, 2008

This caught my attention today…

Of couse, that kind of thinking makes me into this…

Oh well, it’s how I usually feel these days anyway.

From AsboJesus, H/T Grace Expectations for the link.

Socialised medicine

June 12, 2008

I am tying this on my laptop, sitting in a hospital room while I wait for my husband to return from surgery. He has been limping around since injuring his knee in January and after a few months caught in the cycle of GPs, physios, specialists and ACC he is now finally getting the cartilage repaired.

I could complain about the waiting and the paperwork and the wasted time, but I’m not going to. Because last week we watched Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’, and now all I feel is grateful.

ACC (the NZ government accident compensation corporation which replaces private insurance for accidents) may have taken 3 months to arrange the surgery but he is getting what he needs. Completely free. And in a nice comfortable private hospital.

We have also been through years of struggle with his head injury and subsequent migraines, and he is only just getting the care he needs, but that is more to do with unhelpful doctors than the system itself. As with the knee injury, all specialist appointments and any tests required are paid for by ACC. And presriptions for his expensive medicine are significantly subsidised.

When our little girl was born the midwife and hospital stay were free, as were 6 weeks of midwife visits at home and the all health care for the first 6 years of her life.

When my Dad had 2 heart attacks last year he got full emergency care immediately, cardiac catheterisation (twice) and all follow up rehabilitation care free.

I have posted on this subject before, and my opinion has not changed. Having have seen both ends of the system, as a nurse and as a patient (and obviously as a patients relative!) I simply cannot comprehend the American fear of “socialised medicine”. I remember having drawn out discussions about it with American friends, who mirrored the concerns shown in Sicko- worries about government control, higher taxes, rationing and waiting lists. There is of course some validity to it. Prioritisation and rationing are facts of life in this system. Private hospitals exist here because those who have the money prefer to have thier surgery as quickly as possible, and in hotel-like surrounds. But I’d much rather live in a country where everyone is able to access health services regardless of socio-economic status, and where I know we will get emergency care immediately than the alternative. And I’d rather pay for it with my taxes than through an insurance company. At least I know the government isn’t trying to make a profit out of me.