"Looking for a show about morals... Well then you better not tune in," warn the producers of The Samaritans, a new mockumentary satirizing an NGO culture in which money, time, and catchphrases are wasted by self-righteous people to "save Africa."
As the show's website explains:
"The Samaritans is a comedy about an NGO that does nothing.
It is centered around the absurdities of one dysfunctional NGO. The setting for The Samaritans is the Aid for Aid Kenya field office. The main characters are the staff who have to deal with the odd demands and decisions of the head UK Aid for Aid office and hopelessly inept local bureaucrats, while trying to write as many useless reports as possible, all under the guise of 'saving' Africa.
Aid for Aid is an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) whose mandate it is to do...well, no one knows exactly. But by demonstrating a knack for using all the right buzzwords and NGO jargon, they can get away with doing a lot of nothing."
It's quite the crowd. There's the clueless new Country Director Scott, who introduces himself as an alcoholic and former intern: "Many of you might be asking who I banged to get this position... I've worked for my mother's NGO since I was six years old."
There's the Interim Country Director, who announces she knows better than the UK office. "Bring me my usual," she demands of a female staff member. "Bottle of 75% proof vodka, six Valiums, and a crap bag."
Then there's the male staff member who appears to do nothing but refer to all the women as sweetie: "I called you sweetie because I call all the girls in the office sweetie... Isn't that right, sweetie?"
In the first episodes we introduce a rival NGO – the guys next door. This NGO is the complete opposite of Aid for Aid – so we show that they have good governance and are actually accountable to their stakeholders. We show how this works well for everyone....
I'd like to go on for as long as I can. We know we're critiquing a "big machine", and we don't expect the show to change anything overnight – but we'd like to start a dialogue, to get people talking and thinking about in what contexts aid works and for the organizations that are broken, how do you fix them? We're also going to touch on scenarios and issues in the show that are beyond just NGOs, looking at broader issues around international development.