I am going to try to do some audio and video blogs. There are so many blogging tools, I think it is time to play. I have one or two You Tube clips, but here is my first audio clip via Sound Cloud:

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&show_artwork=true&color=000fff” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Why I listen to TED

For a few years now, I have listened in on great speakers at the TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design). These talks are about ideas worth spreading and have been going on since 1984. I like the way it gets my mind ticking and picks me up, in the moments that doubts start to creep into my mind.

Here is a talk I listened to today:


Keep on going and motivate others around you to do the same. Positive change is possible, yet it can take time to get there. So, I listen to TED, to remind myself that the change I want is possible.

Oxfam Pramble 2011

Last weekend I was down at the Millennium Bridge in London to welcome the Oxfam Pramble team. So what is it all about?

Let some of the volunteers tell you themselves:


Have a look at  their route, all the way from London to Manchester showing their interactive journey!


Another cool part of the finish line was a huge pregnant giant, made by the Chester Giants, listen to what they had to say :


Highlighting the importance of maternal health is important for us all, as a good start in life impacts ones future prospects. Have a look at more photos on the Oxfam Pramble here. Well done everyone!

Gender Equality: an activists view

Last month, Gender was a hot topic within International Development and the fight against poverty worldwide. In March it was International Women’s Day, UN Women gained some momentum and it also played host the publication of The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty edited by Sylvia Chant.  It has been great to highlight the progress and change around gender issues world-wide and the issues were even highlighted by the likes of James Bond.

March is now over, yet the issues around gender equality still have a long way to go.  Here are some key facts:

  • In 2009 women on average accounted for less than 18.4 % of members of parliament. At all levels and in all sectors fewer women than men are part of decision-making processes. (IPU)
  • Over two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterates are women and despite improvements, more than 55 percent of the 75 million out of school primary age children are girls. (UNESCO)
  • Worldwide, women earn on average only 84 per cent of what men earn in formal waged work. However, large numbers of women are concentrated in informal and precarious work, associated with low and unstable earnings. (ITUC)
  • Every year over 536,000 women die of pregnancy-related complications, and between 8 million and 20 million a year suffer serious injury or disability from the same causes. (WHO)
  • Women are half the 31 million people living with HIV worldwide. More than three in four (77%) of adult women (15 years and older) with HIV globally live in Sub-Saharan Africa – that’s an estimated 12 million out of the 15.5 million women infected with HIV worldwide. (UN)
  • Between 10 and 69 per cent of women report abuse by their intimate partner in every country where reliable data exist. Systematic rape has left millions of women and adolescent girls traumatized, pregnant, or infected with HIV. (UN)

(Source: Oxfam Issues In DepthGender Equality)

So as a new month starts, please try not to forget about gender equality, as its’ issues are so far-reaching and affect us all economically, socially and financially. I will be showing my support to the Oxfam Pramble which will see a pram being pushed from Manchester to all the way to London, to highlight issues of maternal health. I will be back here to share my views on the final push which ends on Londons’ Millennium Bridge on the 2nd of April!

The Girl Effect

Have a look at some insightful videos:




Last weekend I went to my fist blogging conference. It was early on a Saturday morning, but I found my way there hoping I’d given up my day for a good reason. By the end of the day I knew I had. Here are my top three highlights:

1) first was an inspirational and insightful talk by Gareth Owen, the Director of Emergencies. It was an insight into the work humanitarian workers do. Strangely enough the reality behind the work is complex, logistical and does save lives. Gareth talked about getting the text message alerting him of the Haiti earthquake and how he sprung into auto gear after over 20 years of experience on the job. I understand why humanitarian workers want bloggers and writers to get on board and help them spread the message on the work they are doing world-wide.

2) My second highlight was the Film workshop: From floods to famines by Colin Crowley ERP (that’s Emergency Response Personnel) Communications Specialist. I have always wanted to include more photography and film in my blogs but have always held back. Colin’s workshop made me realise I should start snapping and filming away, but with a focus on how I do it. He used the simple ideas of Whole (capturing the whole vision), medium (head and shoulders) and close-ups shots, to create a story. Also using a portrait catalogue to capture the moments in, with many different subjects in the same position, showed how simple techniques can produce great photographs and add another layer to my blog. We also had a peek at the new No Child Born to Die advert, which was great! With today’s technology we all have the power to express our views in many ways through great content, at a click of a button.

3) My third and final highlight was listening to Melvin Burgess explain the importance of a story. As a blogger you know you’re telling some sort of story along the way, yet Melvin helped me understand the importance of telling stories that haven’t been told. Allowing a person or a day to become a story that you can write to increase another person’s knowledge is so powerful. Powerful in the sense of increasing understanding about international development, yet also in helping understand the people that Save the Children work with worldwide.

The Save the Children team were all very welcoming and friendly. I look forward to the next blogging conference and well done for organising a well-rounded event .

As posted for Save the Children UK here .

Why I was born to write…

I have blogged/written about international development issues since I went to volunteer in Ghana for 10 weeks in the summer of 2009. I fell into the typical mind-set ….’I can write about my travels and my family and friends can see what I am up to…’. This was not the case, as once in the village of Kasapin there was no Internet and the nearest Internet café was over an hour away. So my blog lay empty while I was away. When I got back, I thought that since I took the time and trouble to set up a blog I now have to use it in a different way. The way I chose was to highlight global issues in a way that the everyday person would understand the importance of global issues without being bogged down in international development terminology (which happens so much that the public just switch off). I didn’t know that I would continue to write for this long, I didn’t even think anyone would read my blog, yet people have and this inspires me to continue to write. I love looking at my wordress stats and seeing which posts people have read the most. As long as I find the time, I will continue to write about global issues happening all around the world. Thank you to all those that have ever read my blog, it has helped me realise that I was born to write.

Last week I had the chance to pop down to the Dalston Oxfam shop in Hackney to go to the Valentine’s climate change action evening. Kevin the Manager was on the door and told me “it’s nice to use the shop as a campaign outlet for Oxfam, as not everyone knows about our work. It’s good to have people here to spread the word about working in developing countries”.

As I worked my way around the shop, it was a hive of activity. A clothes swap was on the cards later in the evening, so people were busy giving in their clothes and making tags to give the new owner a little bit of its history. In the corner, people were creating Valentine’s cards for their MPs, asking them to contact Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The action was to hear how the government planned to contribute to the newly created global green fund. As part of the evening, Hackney MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Meg Hillier, was there to receive her card signed by over 40 of her constituents. I caught up with her to ask a few questions….

What do you think about the event tonight and why did you decide to come down?

MH: Oxfam does very good work on international development issues and particularly on climate change. I think it is important to support NGOs that are doing such good work. It’s great to see the enthusiasm from Hackney residents and others and I love it when people come to Hackney too, to come and support the work of Oxfam. One of the things about my job, is that it’s important to hear what people think both about how the government is doing and what governments around the world should be doing. It is important that politics and politicians do reflect what people think and to do that, we talk to people. Although I talk to people on doorsteps, I have to say on the whole that people don’t raise climate change when I knock on their door as an MP, so tonight is quite nice to listen to people discussing this issue.

What do you think are the key issues that should be pushed through with regards to climate change in the next year?

MH: In global terms, I do think it’s about laying the groundwork now for a good outcome at the next UN Climate Change Conference in South Africa, and to see if we can move forward, particularly on climate finance. I did actually speak to the minister about this before he went out and I know that the British government were trying to get some sort of private finance element of the international finance worked out.

It really is important that countries developing are able to mitigate the worst impact of carbon emissions and build new industries that are greener and to create jobs for their population as well. If we don’t help them now, it will be bad for both them and the planet. The international picture is important, so we have got to get it right. Domestically, I think we need to see the government this year acting decisively on all the investment vehicles for creating green jobs and growth; because we must reach our climate target and it does not look like we are going to do that at this moment in time. Actually, we should be thinking about setting more ambitious ones, and also if we do not create, those jobs in the UK will go somewhere else. We might as well have a double win by reducing carbon emissions and have long term sustainable jobs created here. We must be sustainable – both socially and environmentally – so I think it’s important that the government make a decision this year and get some investment into the UK.

It was good to see a great mix of people at the evening. The importance of highlighting development issues in a range of ways is key to keep the momentum going. To hijack a bit of Valentine’s love is great and I look forward to more antics on International Women’s Day.

As posted on the Oxfam South East Blog

The UN International Year of Youth – Are Young People Valued?

January 2011 marks the fifth month of the United Nations International Year of Youth. The year commenced on August 12 2010, and represents an effort to ‘harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind, from enhancing peace to boosting economic development’ (UN 2011).

The three key focus areas of the programme aim to: create awareness, mobilize and engage young people through participation and partnerships, and to increase intercultural understanding amongst youth.

Almost half way through the Year of Youth, more momentum is needed if the project is to achieve its goals. Having said that, initiatives like The DFID Civil Society Organisations Youth working Group, a network of young people and organizations concerned with youth involvement in international development, provide a good forum for these issues.

On the 15th of September 2010, a group of young people met with Nick Clegg and the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, to discuss the importance of young people in pushing forward the development agenda. Continue reading “The UN International Year of Youth – Are Young People Valued?”