yet another PC-gone mad story


Africa charity censors old soldier's memories
By Richard Savill

(Filed: 22/08/2006)

A retired major has complained to a charity after it refused to send wartime photographs to a 12-year-old boy in a village in Zambia, whom he is sponsoring.

Major Robin Medley, 86, who served with the King's African Rifles in the Second World War, disputed the charity's claim that the boy might be "traumatised" by the photographs.

advertisementHis complaint has been taken up by his Conservative MP, who said he was "shocked and appalled" that the photographs of the boy's ancestors had been deemed unsuitable.

Three years ago, Major Medley, who helped to liberate Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, from the Italian Fascists, decided to sponsor the child after receiving a circular through the post. He chose Zambia because he had served with men from the Northern Rhodesian Regiment, now the 1st Zambia Regiment.

Major Medley recently thought that the boy, Elasto Sakala, would be interested to see photographs of soldiers from his country taken during the war. But when he sent the pictures with a letter to World Vision, the charity declined to forward them.

"This boy's ancestors would have been in the regiment," said Major Medley. "Anyone who served with African regiments retains a deep affection for the region." Major Medley, who lives near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, took the issue up with the Tory MP for Monmouth, David Davies, who has posted a message on his internet weblog in support of his constituent.

The blog says: "He [Major Medley] sent the boy pictures of his African comrades with a letter explaining the bond he made while serving in the Army and the fond memories he has of people he met while stationed in Africa.

"The photographs were returned to him by World Vision with a letter saying the photographs were 'unsuitable for the child' and that the attached letter had been 'rewritten' to remove any reference to the photos.

"I seem to remember that this type of censorship and disrespect was the hallmark of the very people that my constituent was fighting against while stationed in Africa."

In a reply to Mr Davies, World Vision said: " We have apologised [to Maj Medley] for not fully explaining our policy regarding what items can or cannot be sent to sponsor children in our initial letter.

"While we appreciate that Mr Medley meant absolutely no ill intent by the sending of the picture, many children in countless countries across Africa have had first hand experience of war or violence involving guns or other weaponry and have suffered trauma as a result.

"As a precaution we therefore do not permit pictures of this nature to be sent on, however well intended." Mr Davies said: "World Vision is guilty of stereotyping the whole of Africa as war-torn. Since independence, Zambia has hardly been involved in military conflict. I would be happy to show these pictures to my two-year-old."

World Vision said its policy had to be applied across the board. "We can't have tailor made policies, they have to be blanket," said a spokesman.

In a statement, World Vision added: " We have a policy not to pass on letters, photos and other gifts depicting images of war in order that we can safeguard our sponsored children."

While the chance of this particular child being adversely affected by Mr Medley's photographs may be slim, our policy is based on our experience of working with children in communities across the world for over 60 years. ''Our first responsibility is to our sponsored children, rather than our sponsors."
Sorry but having read their reasoning for the ban on pictures of soldiers and weapons I can actually see where they are coming from.

Some of these kids have seen and experienced things that would fill every available PTSD councellors office in a heartbeat.

A blanket ban may seem harsh but better safe than sorry.
I think this is denying this patricular child some of his country's history - I can understand a ban in many African countries but not Zambia. People are individuals and should be treated as such
Sorry, but I think the do gooders are talking complete sh1te.

The kids would hardly get traumatised from these pictures. From the look of it they would be just pictures of men in uniform, possibly with weapons. Not mass slaughter on the field of battle.

In short they are being over sensitive and protective. This could do the world of good to a child who realises that there are people in the world who respect and love his country rather than the World Vision view of them all being war scarred, poor savages.

Edit to add.

This could even show to the young lad that there were once real soldiers who fought real evil, not a bunch of self proclaimed head cases high on kat, cutting about with machetes and eating peoples brains because they looked at them funny.
I sponsored a child in Africa for many years and the charity were always very straight and strict about what was suitable to send. NOTHING with any connection to the military or politics was acceptable.

They were very clear about this.

They did make suggestions about what should be sent, such as pictures of buildings and animals that would be different from those the child had experienced.

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