Thursday, 5 August 2010

Sharing Skills and Changing Lives

Sharing Skills and Changing Lives - (for the uninitiated this is the VSO motto!)

I sometimes wander why I am here, yes its interesting I am learning, but am I helping Nigeria, or even one Nigerian?

Well this morning I received this text message:
"Tank u Emily for ur support. d interview went well. just d same things you asked me. tanks a lot"

Working in "development" sometimes feels like an "industry" of its own, and to be honest it sometimes feels like convincing donors to make rich Nigerians richer.  I work for an organisation that sees itself as affecting policy at the highest level, ie Federal Government, in order to reduce poverty, which of course is important but it takes time and feels rather abstract, and has little to do with grassroots level actions which I am used to.  Talking to Nigerians about using individuals to influence government policy is met with hilarity, bewilderment, and statements like "you don't know how things work in Nigeria", this is true and I am trying to learn.

So when I got the above text message this morning, it bought a tear to my eye, yes I know that's not difficult.  It was sent from a colleague Ugochi, who works for a radio station, and is with ICEED as an intern to learn more about climate change.  She has a radio programme called Green Angle on ASO radio  (you can listen on line, Tuesdays 09:30am) and applied to the Climate Change Media Fellowship to attend a nine month training for journalists and then to attend the Cancun meeting in Mexico.  Yesterday she had an email to invite her for a telephone interview at 6pm.

So, Velice my Kenyan colleague also VSO, and I conducted a mock interview, with me in role of interviewer and Velice as observer.  I asked "if you could interview President Obama what would you ask him?", "how do you prepare for your radio programme?" and "tell me about a difficult situation you have faced live on radio and how you handled it?"

Ugochi has experienced the effects of climate change in her village and wants to understand the issues better and use art and media to educate people to create change.  If she is selected she hopes on her return to Nigeria to train journalists and grassroots organisations to build their response to climate change in Nigeria.

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