It seems wherever you go in the world that funding is an issue. We all have to justify why we require funding to do something, and the same goes for TB activists. I have worked in the TB arena for a long time. I don’t think that I am stupid, but I have never been able to fathom why on the one had people who work in TB advocacy are told how important and integral their work is in the fight against TB, and yet find it so difficult to get funding for their activities. It is often the very same people who stress how important advocacy is that conversely for one reason or another are unable to fund it. How do the people calling for advanced advocacy efforts for TB expect it to be done?
It is important for any activist/advocate to be driven, to believe that what they are doing is right. It is the thing that fuels them, that pushes them forward to their goals. Rightly the main force has to be altruistic. However, this is real life; rent must be paid, mouths need to be fed, not to mention all of the extras such as a mobile phone to communicate to others, a computer, broadband… and the electricity to make them work.
I have lost count of the times that myself, and other activists/advocates have been asked to do something pro-bono, unpaid. It isn’t so much that we want to be paid for our work, but we would like to be able to afford the basics to survive whilst we are doing it.
I admire activists/advocates whom tirelessly are trying to make a difference and often make personal sacrifices to achieve this. To them I say do it for as long as you can, but beware that your own world doesn’t start to fall apart because you find things aren’t sustainable. To those who say there are limited funds for advocacy, but also wax lyrical about how important advocacy is in the fight against TB; here is something innovative – if it is so important find the funds to pay for it! You can rely on activists/advocates for the fuel of anger at what is happening, you can rely on their commitment and the desire to make a difference… but these traits are not inexhaustible. There comes a day when many activists/advocates open the kitchen cupboard only to find they have given away so much there is nothing left for themselves.