by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
Happy Ethiopian New Year! In case you’re not following the Orthodox Julian calendar, which is seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar, it’s 2004. The New Year began Sept. 11 and celebrations continue for about two weeks. Thus, my colleagues and I who’ve met in Addis Ababa this week for ChildFund’s Africa region communications training are feeling younger than we’ve felt in years. It’s going to make a great story when we return home.
In fact, that’s the reason the communications officers from ChildFund’s national offices in Africa have come together this week — to talk about storytelling.
Bernardo from Angola. Joan from Kenya. Arcenio from Mozambique. Ya Sainey from the Gambia, Emmanuel from Liberia, Priscilla from Zambia, Arthur from Guinea, Selamawit from Ethiopia and Monica from Uganda.
“It’s the first time we’ve had nine members of our communications staff together for training,” says Tenagne Mekonnen, regional communications manager for Africa. “I am happy and excited. I’m sure it will help all of us to improve our storytelling and our news reporting.”
Led by Christine Ennulat, ChildFund’s Communications & Public Affairs writer, with assistance from Julien Anseau, Asia regional communications manager, this week-long session is the first of three. Monica Planas, regional communications manager for the Americas also has joined us in Addis, as she will be hosting a similar session next month in Honduras. Julien will be hosting the Asia region training in Indonesia.
I’m along to assist with the training and also gain more hand’s-on experience in talking with children and families in our projects and then telling their stories to ChildFund’s supporters.
This week we’ve been exploring key elements of memorable stories, the art of observation, news values, interviewing techniques, photography, video and social media.
We’ve tackled some challenging issues that arise when reporting from the field. What are the most relevant stories for our supporters? How do you capture concrete details? How do you get shy children talking? How do you work effectively with translators? What steps can you take to improve photos shot in a family’s poorly lighted home?
These last two days of the week are being spent in the field, visiting ChildFund projects in urban slums near Addis. We’re interviewing children, youth and community members in Arada and Semen Ber to learn about their daily lives.
One thing we all know as we walk the rock-strewn back alleys of Addis, teeming with livestock, litter, mothers cooking on outdoor stoves and children scuffling in the dirt — these are stories that need to be told.