Edinburgh Fringe show Educating Ronnie explores the aid debate
Fringe monologue charts true story of two friends living 4000 miles apart
This article is from 2012.
On his gap year in Uganda, Joe Douglas had a blast. He was 18 years old, hanging out with his new mate Ronnie, discussing the pros and cons of Alex Ferguson, getting a local’s eye view of Mityana. Then he went home to Manchester and got on with his life.
Six months later, a text arrived from Ronnie. ‘Brother my sponsor has pulled out on me and I want to stay in school. Can you help?’ Douglas, full of post-gap year youthful idealism, agreed to send his friend £20 a month.
Now Douglas is telling the story of the ten years that followed in Educating Ronnie. It boils the moral dilemmas of the aid debate down to two individuals, one in Manchester providing for one in Africa who he knew for six weeks in 2002.
‘I wanted to work out my own doubts,’ says Douglas, who performs the one-man piece. ‘Supporting Ronnie has been full of moral ambiguity. I would send him money hoping that it was going to the right place, but Uganda is chaotic.’
Meanwhile Douglas wears ancient trainers, passes on going to festivals and struggles to pay his rent. He got a fright when he added up how much he had sent over the decade. It has, he says, been worthwhile. Expensive. But worth it.
Educating Ronnie, Assembly George Square, 623 3030, 4–26 Aug (not 13, 20), 1.15pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10). Previews 2 & 3 Aug, £6.