Ghana diaries 2009: Ghana bread

So my room-mate Jimmy, had an amazing host family. So when we were leaving, they baked us some bread. I remember going to see them and being taught to roll, bake and eat great Ghana bread. I have always loved Ghana bread, I could eat it all day every day :).

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.

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?”

The Billionaire, The Rock Star and Us

On Monday evening I had the chance to go along to Living Proof, which was hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates, and attended by many of the international development world including DFID Ministers, heads of all major NGO’s and lets not forget ONE co founder Bono. I bumped into my fellow campaigner Jen Crago (Outreach Campaign Coordinator, London for OXFAM). Here is her take on the night:

Occasionally, and I am sure that any seasoned campaigner will sympathise, you feel like all of your efforts have been wasted. This week has been different; notably fantastic re-affirmation from George Osbourne that Britain is on track to deliver its promised 0.7% of GNI as ODA by 2013, and also the launch of ONE’s ‘Living Proof’ with Bill and Melinda Gates at London’s Science Museum on Monday night. The two of us were fortunate enough to be invited to attend.

Bill and Melinda presented a story, full of the charts and graphs that you would naturally expect from the mind behind Microsoft, that we don’t hear often enough; 99% reduction in Polio, 98 million less people going hungry in 2010 than there were last year, 500 million anti-malarial bed nets which are saving 200,000 lives per year. Proof that over the past decade smart aid has achieved real, demonstratable results. They also offered a sincere expression of appreciation to Britain (naming some of our largest NGO’s, including Oxfam) for all of our efforts to end extreme poverty and our leadership on the world stage.

Following the presentation we attended a reception where Jen had the pleasure to chat with Oxfam’s own Duncan Greene, personally thank Andrew Mitchell, our Secretary of State for International Development, for his reassurance of the governments promise to deliver and not make cut backs to spending on aid and development, and also chat with numerous fellow development sector professionals, journalists and economists. Adizah took the opportunity to speak with Bill Gates, shake his hand, and tell him how impressed she is with the work that he and his wife, Melinda, are doing, especially in the eyes of a 21 year old.

Me, Bono and Jen

Continue reading “The Billionaire, The Rock Star and Us”