Pamoja Student Foreign Aid News Network
Telling the Unheard Stories
The Pamoja Student Foreign AID News Network is a student-powered global news network that at last tells the long-unheard story of foreign aid from the perspective of the recipient. Pamoja, the Swahili word for together, connects students from aid recipient and donor countries in a student-to-student learning process. Student teams will be multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary, drawing the best students studying communication, public health, the humanities, and more. The goal: to nurture the conversation about aid; tell raw, authentic, and inspiring stories from the field; and engage a worldwide audience in re-imagining aid by telling it like it is.
In early 2013, eight students from Bondo University College (BUC) and Great Lakes University of Kisumu (GLUK) will be trained to use cell phones and tablets to record stories and images of aid projects and recipients in Western Kenya. The Kenyan students will begin to establish relationships with organizations implementing health and development projects large and small (funded by both international donors and by local philanthropy), and do initial research on possible story ideas.
During the summer, eight students from Boston University will travel to Kenya to work in teams with students at BUC and GLUK to continue with field research, and create high quality productions, video, photography, audio and text—even music or games—that capture the compelling stories of aid and how it really works (or doesn’t work) from a local perspective. Many of these will be first person narratives that describe the impact of aid on a community and individual households. For example, student team might:
- Record the perspective and voice of a mother whose child is fully immunized;
- Create a video of a child who is going to school for the first time;
- Write an in-depth story about HIV-positive mothers who mentor pregnant women who have recently learned they have HIV about how to stay healthy and optimistic and not transmit the virus to their infant;
- Photograph the progress of a sanitation project installing compost latrines in an urban slum;
- Blog about their personal reflections about their experience collecting these stories.
In late summer and fall, BU, BUC, and GLUK students will collaborate virtually to distribute the productions to the widest possible audience using social networks, traditional media, audio podcasts for cell phones in Kenya — any means possible to get the story out. A professional-quality public website will be developed to archive the stories and productions. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms will be used to showcase the stories and draw a broad student audience to the website. Pamoja stories will be created by students for other students around the world.
Phase I of the Pamoja Student Foreign AID News Network is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as Grand Challenges Exploration, Aid is working. Tell the world.
We will develop a global program that will allow us to expand the Pamoja Student Foreign AID News Network to other universities and other countries. We will design a tool kit and curriculum to share with others. The Pamoja Student Foreign Aid News Network web-based archive will then become a global site where students can share stories of aid.
We will seek Phase II support from the Gates Foundation at the completion of this pilot project. We will also be looking for other partners interested in shining a light on how aid works from the point of view of the recipient, and promoting cross-cultural collaboration in a vibrant global student newsroom.
Pamoja Student Foreign Aid News Network is part Boston University’s Program on Crisis Response and Reporting, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington DC, the BU College of Communication, the School of Public Health, the Center for Global Health and Development. The partnership brings journalists and global health specialists together to improve mutual understanding and collaborative global health story telling. The goal of the program is to explore the ways in which journalism and public health complement one another and also frequently collide and, in doing so, to establish and maintain an ongoing conversation between reporters and public health responders about how we can better work together.