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Now I am awake!

I am relatively new to living here and am still finding my feet. I’m not sure how long this will take but probably quite a while as I don’t want to join the legions of ‘expats who come here and tell us what to do and then leave’, usually leaving a report that joins all the other reports gathering dust on the shelf. I have no plans to write a report, or tell people what they should do. I want to listen, encourage, offer ideas and make connections. To make strong, sustainable individuals and communities to take on the challenges life throws at them and find solutions for themselves that reflect the aspirations and sensibilities of a people living on one the most remote places on earth.
The population is small, about 3,500, and this brings benefits and problems. Everyone knows each other (and their families) and people help each other a lot which is good and there is a strong sense of belonging. There is a tradition of self-help and I hope that will stay as the island goes through huge changes. We might get an airport soon which will be a massive change as it will mean people can get here in a few hours but that is another discussion altogether although it will have an impact on every aspect of life here.
My biggest barrier to change here has to be getting past the people who tell me “that they tried that and it didn’t work” to every suggestion, getting people to trust and believe I can offer something that will work and finding funding to get things started.
Many of the social problems here are no different to anywhere else but the impact can be. For victims of domestic abuse there are no support services, no refuge or phone-lines to call for support, no support for the children who have witnessed abuse and no way to escape seeing the perpetrator. We are starting a women’s support group, lobbying for a safe house and raising the issue of domestic abuse through community media and education. Finding solidarity with similar groups through Pulse will give the members the confidence to speak out, shout that domestic violence is not acceptable or a part of married life so “get used to it” as I have heard so often.
This is only the beginning, there are so many other behaviours and issues that have been accepted as ‘what happens’ for so long without being questioned we will need the support of Pulse to start even talking about them – but we will and things will change, making life better for women and their children in so many ways. My friend from Afghanistan said moving to England had opened their eyes after being asleep for so long and they wanted to do something with their life before sleeping again. That is what being part of Pulse means to me and the women of St Helena.

Comments

Jency's picture

Hi

A good initiative. Wishes for success. You are on your own or you represent any NGO?

Jency

lizjohnson-idan's picture

Not alone but independent

I am a volunteer working to strengthen civil society organisations. The main focus was to have been a Youth parliament and tannants association and although I am still working on these areas other things have come up which are just as, if not more, important in making a stronger community. Representation of women, the disabled and victims of abuse and alcohol abuse to mention a few!

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

This is a great assignment

This is a great assignment and you have a very clear idea about how you want to connect women in your community to PulseWire to help find them support--has anyone else been integrating online support/programs yet? I would love to know a little about who you are and what the community is that you're working in. Putting that information up front will really help this piece.

Great job!

Cheers,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

lizjohnson-idan's picture

More about St Helena

I am in St Helena as a volunteer working to strenghten civil society organisations. The island is probaly the most remote place in the world as we are at least 2 days sailing from any other land and the only regular ship comes about every 6 weeks. Currently awaiting a decision on whether the UK will fund an airport (this has been a long time in waiting) which will bring massive changes to the community.

My work is with all community and voluntary groups but in doing that I have realised that support for women, people who are affected by domestic & sexual violence and mental health issues is not there so I am trying to initiate a sustainable support network. Because we are a very small island there is no-where to escape from perpetrators and being so isolated means access to outside support and information is difficult.

My background is in cummunity and rural development most recently working in addressing racism and bullying in the UK alongside women's development issues in Ghana.

Stephanie Roth Gurung's picture

Fascinating

Wow very interesting work you are doing in such a remote place. I wish you the best and I really appreciate your attitude toward volunteering and what you hope to accomplish. I agree that it would help if you could introduce where you are living and what you are doing at the beginning of your assignment (I know now from your comment).

Best,

Stephanie

Adepeju's picture

Keep up the good work friend.

Keep up the good work friend. Keep standing up for your community. Keep advocating for that change we really want.

Jessica Carmen's picture

Working with people

I enjoyed reading about your efforts in St. Helena. I think that your approach, one of working with people and helping them find their own solutions rather than telling them a "better" way, is so vitally important. It sounds like the work you are doing will really help women of that area. I'm sure it must be very difficult to address issues such as domestic violence in such a small community. I hope, with your help, that women will be able to speak out and end the violence.

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