The sight of groups of poor children and/or widows dancing and singing their praise before benevolent benefactors used to leave me cold. These days it makes me physically ill.
It's a familiar scenario to anyone who has worked in development/aid in Africa (and possibly elsewhere?): visit a rural village or a new community centre and you'll be met with two hours of self-congratulation and celebration as beneficiaries "express their gratitude" while funders and aid workers look on knowingly, basking in the glory of the good they have done. It is an interminable time-waster and a complete distraction from the reality that few of these projects have achieved nearly enough to justify taking singing-and-dancing time out from doing things better. More importantly, it reinforces the idea that aid workers are saviours who come into an otherwise helpless community and show them the way to a better life. As opposed to, say, recognising that whatever project is being implemented is a small contribution to the livelihood outcomes households are achieving for themselves.
And yet, so many highly intelligent, competent people seem unable to resist. It's like candy floss (cotton candy if you're American) for aid workers - tasty and sweet, leaves you on a completely unsustainable sugar-high and if you get too much of it you feel horribly ill. Seriously, folks, we're better than this. The people we work with are better than this. I'm all for singing and dancing (I really am!) but when it's really just self-aggrandising, sugary nonsense, there are better ways to spend the time.