A journey well-travelled. Voices of our future: behind the scenes
“My small change is big change” is a statement I have adopted after being a part of voices of our future in 2013. Many people read the assignments and many commented and supported us as we traversed this journey with the entire world pulse community. For many what they only saw where the perfect assignments, well written solutions oriented writings from passionate women who refused to let their situations weigh them down but chose to do something about them. Many were not even aware of two women supporting the correspondents with their expertise, time and experience to write the stories of all the extraordinary women in the world known and unknown. This was the biggest contribution from selfless women who were our vision mentors and editorial mentors. And the first time we skyped as a triad myself, my vision mentor debraengle and my editorial mentor sanpatagonia was a day I can never forget. I remember that laughter and happiness was in the atmosphere and a strong sisterhood was formed there and then.
All would agree with me that Delphine and Zoe are just wonderful people. I don’t even know what to write about them but words may not do them justice so I just say thank you. They were there for each one of us as if you were the only one. Made me wonder if they ever slept at all, considering our different time zones. Their support was and still is just awesome. And to the rest of the world pulse staff working tirelessly behind the scenes I say thank you again. You made it seem all easy but we know it wasn’t easy.
And oh the joy of hearing about all the women from different regions all aiming to fight for women’s empowerment against all the odds. Who can forget the Skype calls were we met and the distance was forgotten as we got down to serious business and shared ideas, experiences and challenges. Many times I was transported to Tibet where, as jampa shared about the self-immolations I felt like I was there with her, I was also in Cameron with nakinti as she fought hard to bring dignity to women in her area bringing to light the injustice against women accused of witchcraft because they encountered difficult labor, I went to Nigeria with greengirl fighting to make the world greener with her well researched articles and the USA with Nechesa speaking out against injustice and racism in the US , and was I not also in the DRC with Passymubalama and her fight for women in a war torn country and sat next to phionah musumba in her endeavours especially with regards to children’s e education, whilst preciousm in Cameroon had a tough time fighting to chooseher own religion as a woman ,and with hidekon in japan who is just making a difference for women in Nigeria and before I knew it I was in India with mukut sharing experiences on the blame games against women who are sexually abused and off to Maldives with aminah who wants to emancipate herself and many women who are in abusive relationships, then there I was with iryna in Ukraine who is fighting for women in her country not only to be seen as sex objects but beautiful women who should be recognised for who they and be respected in their diversity and then bitani in Lebanon and her portrayal of Muslim women and her powerful story of May that changed our perception of a day of a woman’s life in Lebanon which is similar for the days of many women in the world. I was also with anab87j9 as she fights for an end to human torture I ghost houses, ayunnie in Kenya promoting participation of women in politics and I am rooting for her as she will be president one day, deqa who has lost relatives trying to find a better life abroad, jaqs83 fighting for the rights of stateless people, klaudiamexico standing up for women with disabilities and the chance for women to talk about sex freely, and vweta my shero who has refused to let disability pull her down and she has just been an inspiration to me, Monica 09 from Bangladesh fighting modern day slavery, nadz from Jamaica fighting for young girls in detention, patsy lindrio from Uganda fighting LGBT rights, shahd in Iraq also bringing to fore the plight of refugees especially women who become even more vulnerable during times of conflict. Then closer to home I travelled to meet Tina n In Malawi advocating for the education of girls joy spencer in sierra Leone who wants girls to be given a chance to choose in the matter FGM-making us reflect on whether choice would make a difference. Over the seas I travelled to be with latiNegra in the US as she advocates for safe births for women and her work in helping women give birth. In my tireless never-ending journey I was also in the Philippines and had a chance to meet libudsuroy, I was soon off to meet rabia.salihi in Afghanistan who wants girls to be empowered to understand their worth and the natural process of menstruation as she shared her struggles to accept what was happening to her by colouring the red blue, rebeccaR in Uganda strongly advocating for the end to sexual abuse and seeking justice in a country where a minister is not punished for speaking ill of women and encouraging their abuse, yosraakasha In Sudan highlighting the plight of the Sudan women under conflict an how they suffer because they are women, olive branch from Pakistan talking about harassment especially of young girls in college and how the women do not want to talk about it. And of course back home to Zimbabwe where I shared about rape of girls which continues to rise unabated and the importance of teaching young girls to embrace their bodies and understanding menstrual health. The world just came together here, indeed from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, a strong sisterhood was formed.
I have never been to so many places in my life and feel present in these women’s countries just because of their passionate work and the experiences that they were passionately sharing with me and the world. Through VOF I feel like I have been to each of the correspondents’ countries and met the women they write about and defend. many times during heated debate back at home have I given the different situations in their countries as examples, living fellow debaters shocked that I know so much about countries I have never been to and such intimate details too.(here I smile- couldn’t let this pass just so proud). Such is the experience of VOF. One word that describes it seconded by many during the wrap up call is ‘sisterhood’. Here, as the author of this piece allow me to add another word ‘family’. This is what VOF is about and more importantly this is what world pulse is about.
Though fun, during the VOF training, there were assignments to submit, deadlines to meet and it just made everything exciting. With our press passes we got an opportunity to meet officials and speak out and interview them. For many of us our lives changed in many ways and at times immeasurable ways. I can only say you can never be a VOF correspondent and remain the same. In addition, nothing compares to the education we got from each other as we read each other’s assignments and became a part of each other’s world and life.
To the class of 2013 I say you are all my sheroes and keep on following your vision. You are special people who have shared their vision with everyone. Let’s keep the global sisterhood alive and as we come to the end of the program I say the journey is just beginning. To the whole community, our mentors and WP staff thank you, we couldn’t have done it without you.