About Berkeley’s Blog

Welcome!

1535232841_3e1809affa_bYou have stumbled across the blog of Berkeley Vincent originally from a little country town of Blessington – south of Dublin, Ireland. This blog started its life as way for me to document my experiences working with a HIV organisation in Zambia, Southern Africa.

After close to a decade in the healthcare industry, I had developed some understanding of how healthcare infrastructure and public policy has delivered such marvellous advances in the quality and quantity of life for those of us fortunate enough to be born in the developed world.

However when it came to answering the real healthcare challenges of the 21st century – how to extend some of these great advances in care to the less developed parts of the world, I was in almost complete ignorance. So I decided that 2009 would be a fine moment to take a break and shift focus from working with rich people’s health issues to the far larger ones faced by the poor of the world instead.

aidsribbon I was fortunate enough to secure a sabbatical from my employers to spend 12 months under the PEPAL programme working as a volunteer for a HIV non governmental organisation based in Lusaka, Zambia . I spent the year trying to put to good use some of my business experiences, skills and training and predictably enough spent far more time learning from my colleagues at the NGO.

The blog became a small way for me to try and share back some of the bigger questions of our times relating to HIV, aid, trade, development, volunteering and life in Africa as they presented themselves to me in Zambia. Although I am now back to a very comfortable life in Europe, I guess the writing has become something of a habit and am going to see how long I can keep finding interesting things to write about.

I still hope to have a few things to say about the issues I encountered in Zambia but I get the feeling there will be plenty of material from my new home in Denmark as well as my new found perspectives on health and development.

It goes without saying that all the views in this blog remain mine and mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer, the organisation I was seconded to or anyone else you might care to mention.

Yours,
Berkeley

PS – If you are interested in taking some time out to lend your professional skills to an organisation such as the one I worked with in Zambia, try talking to the PEPAL people!

Comments
24 Responses to “About Berkeley’s Blog”
  1. Rich says:

    BV. The Blog is in good shape and ready to go. Enjoy every moment and I will try and blog in when I’m drifting off or bogged down in strat.plan!! See you in 12 months. Rich

  2. Tracy Hassan says:

    Berkeley – best of luck to you, and hope that the year is amazing for you.

  3. Vivian says:

    Sparkeley!! Enjoy it and keep blogging … I am really enjoying reading about your experiences and I am in awe of your courage!!! Rock on! Vivian

  4. Bronwyn Vincent says:

    Super proud of my big brother. Missing you. Keep safe and enjoy this wonderful journey.
    Lots of love, Bron.

  5. Marie-Hélène Dubesset says:

    Ton blog se lit comme un roman. Hope this experience in Zambia fulfils your hunger for adventure and excitement!
    Joyeux anniversaire, Berkeley.
    Warm regards always, Marie

  6. Jerry says:

    Berkeley, hope you have a safe and eventful year, Helen and I send our best wishes. Unfortunately I have to agree with your comments about South Africa and the dropping of charges against Zumo proves the point. Nick did some work for a friend of mine Fr Gerry O’Connor (a late vocation from the world of finance), he runs a group called http://www.serve.ie which works in Africa.

  7. Larissa NOlan says:

    Hi Craigy
    It’s Lar here. I’m on Kelly’s FB because I am a) too cool for school so can’t have an FB accunt and b) am a total technophobe and computers usually blow up when I go near them so there’d me no point.
    Anyway, she was telling me you went to Zambia and I am so impressed with your decision to do this. I went to Uganda Nov 2007 and it was the best thing I ever did in my career. I really wanted to stay there and I planned to arrange to go for a year, but that did not work out for me. I am still plaguing Oxfam about it,to bring me back there!
    I could go on and on about why it was so amazing, how it is such an upl;ifting feeling and gives you faith in humanity to see the good moods and smiles from people who have NOTHING and live in an environment where they are lucky to survive, most of the time. There is none of the vanity and the self obsession and the petty concerns of the western world and this gives great freedom. Also, the simplicity of living life without the total dictation of internet and mobile phones is a great thing. All these things… Makes you realise it is the most important thing in the world. For you to go from somewhere like London, to there – it is a brilliant thing to do and I can’t actually see you ever going back to London again. afterwards… But we will see I guess! Of course there were plenty of moments wheremy heart was broken, like when you go to camps that have not been touched by say the Red Cross or Oxfam, ones that have slipped through the net, and you see families withour clothes and swollen bellies…And you want to take them all home or you want to ship all the stupid food left on the shelves in supermarkets all over Dublin every evening over to them. I think my friends now think I am obsessive about waste – but it DRIVES me MAD after seeing what people would do for the elastic band off my wrist, or a lipstick from my pocket, a bottle of water, a biscuit. It is an absolute atrocity and a horrible stain on our history, which will be seen in years to come. That we wantonly wasted so much over this side of the world when others were dying and constanlty starving and facing life expectancies of 30 or so. While we sat back and effectively, did nothing to stop it. And did not care.
    We will get together and talk some day about it.
    I would love to know what Zambia is like, how bad it is. There were parts of northern Uganda where I was that were absolutely awful. Also you had the Lord’s Resistance Army, coming to camps, destroying them, and taking young boys away to train as soldiers, never to be seen again. The food situation was terrible where I was, I survived on rice and bits of met from starved chicken most of the time.
    Anyway have been reading your blog, it’s really goo, hope you enjoy your year, congratulations for making a difference.

    xxxxx LAR

  8. Sharon Jackson says:

    Hey Berkeley,

    this is wonderful that you are doing this. I’m reading your blog for the first time, sitting in Mozambique. Feels close by, who knows if we’ll encounter each other at some point on our mutual journeys of discovery. 2009 is definitely going to be an interesting and different year for me too. Take care and enjoy it all,

    Sharon

  9. roberto di bernardini says:

    Hallo my friend!!! I’m just cheking how things are going. You have wonderful pictures in your blog and I can feel that you are enjoying this wonderful and helpful experience. Please let me know if and when you will be in Uk for a trip, we will find a moment to catch up.

  10. Michelle says:

    Berkeley, I’ve just been catching up on your excellent blog. Sounds like it is all going well for you in Zambia and that you are learning lots. Keep sharing these informative postings! I’ll let you know where I end up, as I still don’t know so am enjoying an extended holiday in Australia.

  11. Yves Wyckmans says:

    Hi Berkeley. Hope everything is well. Great blog and heartbreaking stories putting things into perspective and showing how fortunate our lives are and how much more is to be done for those less fortunate. Hope you keep up your running training, looking forward to a next long run together to talk about your experience in Africa. All the best.

  12. Sue Silk says:

    Berkeley, your blog is inspirational and you are educating all of us who read it about life in Africa- thank you. You really should be in communications…
    Very best wishes, Sue

  13. Doireann says:

    A fascinating read BV. Keep it up. As for that suggestion re. you being in comms, I second that.

  14. Julie McGouran says:

    Hi Berkeley,

    I’ve just read you blog today and I have to say that it is a great read. Mind you it has made me feel pretty usless as I sit here behind my desk in the corporate world of law counting down the minutes until I can escape for the weekend and go for a (what I had thought before I read your blog) ‘well deserved’ jar in Keoghs after work!!

    Anyway, keep up the good work and I shall keep checking in!

    Julie.

  15. Orla Warfield says:

    Hi Craig,
    Congrats on the blog – it is absolutely fascinating! Only clicked into it today so I’ve a bit of catch up reading to do.
    Hope all is well in Lusaka.
    Orla

  16. Maria Beumont says:

    Hi Berkeley,

    Once I start reading, I can not stop! Thank you for telling us about it all and please keep writing.

    Maria

  17. Karen Manson says:

    Hi Berkeley
    You’re over halfway through your year away and I’m really impressed by the positive energy that still runs through your blog – continuing to be inspired by the struggle that you see each day is a real achievement.
    As I read about the guy selling lemons and Angelo, the question that comes up is – what to do to support, to make a difference?
    For example, should I buy more or less green beans from Zambia or is that an exploitative industry – and should I worry about air miles. Would love to hear what you think will help bring about change.
    All the best
    Karen

    • berkeleysblog says:

      Thanks for the kind remarks Karen. For those interested in helping out small entrepreneurs in resource poor settings, I would point you in the direction of http://www.kiva.org or http://www.myc4.com where you can either donate or even make interest on micro-finance loans between you and the recipient.

  18. Isaac Mwape says:

    I wish I could have such a sense of wanting to do something for less priviledged, especially in the war-torn parts of West Africa. I am particularly encouraged and motivated by your thoughts and reasoning to an extent where I feel am obliged to do at least something for this world as a way of fulfilling the reason for my existance. Berkeley you are one in a miliion, beleive me when I say this. No matter how little, I will endeavour to do something to better the life of the person next to me.

  19. Hazel Bentley says:

    Hi Craig,
    I have just joined Facebook and am delighted and amazed to read your jaw dropping accounts of your year out in Zambia. Jim & I were there once so some of your story has a familiar ring to it, we stayed at the Victoria Falls (beautiful and amazing) and Lusaka. I am very proud of what you are doing and so glad you are safe after your recent escapade, HE was looking after you! It is a mind blowing experience for you so enjoy it all.
    Lots of love Hazel

  20. Marco Mohwinckel says:

    Hey buddy, we miss you over here and what an inspiration you are. Take care and give us a shout when you are back. Marco

  21. bec the cello says:

    Hello hello the godfather!!
    managed to catch a few precious moments to read your impressivo blog!! cant wait for you to come back to your little god daughter – we miss you.
    lots of love
    bec and rafi ( two teeth not crawling lots of giggles)

  22. Well Berkeley, long time no see.
    Just wanted to say well done with the blog and more importantly what you are doing in Zambia this year.
    The blog is a great read, educational and emotive. I commend you for it.
    Keep up the posts; I have no doubt that they will continue to effect and hopefully mobilise many.

    Johnny C

  23. jens van roey says:

    Hi Berkeley,
    I have appreciated throughout your blogs, your ability to take some distance from daily problems that are inherent to most of sub saharan African countries but without denying them. Your reflections are well balanced and respectfull and incite people from far away to rethink their preconceived ideas on how to approach development aid. Even more I appreciate your questioning of the overall value of development aid as opposed to empowering local players.
    I can only hope that you will stay connected to this kind of work as your voice is an informed one. Thanks for your engagement, commitment and dedication.

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