Helah Robinson

Helah Robinson (Vital Voices in Cameroon): Helah did her undergraduate degree at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She graduated in 2009. During her studies, Helah studied in Dakar, Senegal for five months, traveled to Guinea and the Gambia and volunteered with the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights (RADDHO) in 2008. She also interned with Vital Voices Global Partnership. After her fellowship, Helah wrote: “As cliché as it sounds, this summer was truly a life changing experience. I learned not only new skills and how to work in varying environments, but much about myself as well. How I interact with people, work best with others and more. Furthermore, in a more practical sense, I had no video, editing, much interviewing or blogging experience before this summer. Now, I have developed those skills in addition to experience working abroad and more practice in a foreign language. I feel I am more capable, confident and equipped to do real substantial work.”

Media Outreach

03 Aug

Last week, Johanna and I sat down with Emmanuel Bah Tokoh, the Chief of the New and Information Ministry at the Cameroonian Baptist Convention. Trained during Nkumu Fed Fed’s HIV/AIDS advocacy campaign, Mr. Tokoh broadcast what he learned in several NFF sponsored programs on CBC Radio. As part of their advocacy project, NFF wanted to produce informational radio programming in both English and Pidgin to reach rural areas that did not have access to the workshops—collaborating with Mr. Tokoh and CBC Radio made this objective possible.

CBC Radio

Working with CBC was a natural partnership for NFF. Three years prior to Nkumu Fed Fed’s program, CBC had learned from a National AIDS Control Committee workshop that North West Cameroon had the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the country and that women in the region were the hardest hit. As a result, the Convention began working on HIV/AIDS related radio that challenged the harmful cultural practices enabling the spread of the disease.

This first attempt, however, had several problems and the NFF training helped clarify and craft appropriate solutions. Initially, the CBC was too aggressive when addressing the issue with its audience. With NFF support, however, the CBC analyzed the content of its programs and reformed its methods. As Mr. Tokoh stated, CBC had been working “out of passion, not profession,” and NFF’s sensitization training led to a more professional, and thus more effective system. CBC-NFF radio shows were no longer confrontational, understanding that changing cultural norms takes time and would happen gradually.

Though NFF helped improve the Convention’s efforts, Mr. Tokoh still had some very good input on how NFF training could advance. Speaking “as a communicator,” Tokoh proposed the idea of carrying out “public outreach programs.” These programs would get out into the country, mobilize the people by creating community-based seminars and use traditional tools (singing, dancing, etc.) making it a truly indigenous initiative. His idea was to then record the proceedings, bring them back to the station and broadcast it, standing in contrast to the typical discussions which were aired directly from the recording studio. By getting the people involved, such workshops would engage the entire community, be received in a much better light and reach a much wider audience.

Some food-for-thought for Fed Fed!

Posted By Helah Robinson

Posted Aug 3rd, 2009

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