Thursday, May 14, 2015

Working in dangerous places


What is it like to work in Africa, and what are the problems that we as a charity encounter?

Ripples’ work in Africa can sometimes be problematic, as a lot of our work is carried out in rural locations, located far from major towns and cities. This means there is often little access to the Internet, a limited amount of equipment, and we only have a small number of people on the ground organising trips to our villages, auditing projects and capturing footage of our work. Most of our problems can be solved through forward planning, being prepared to take any opportunity and having the passion and determination to make change happen.
However, there are risks to working in Africa that are far more sinister than just simple logistics. The presence of Boko Haram, the Islamic jihadi terror organisation, is a constant threat hanging over Nigeria and Cameroon where we operate. Boko Haram hit the headlines last year when they claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian school girls from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, of which the majority of whom are still being held. You may remember the viral campaign that spread across the world through the hashtag #‎BringBackOurGirls‬, that various celebrities and even Michelle Obama got involved in, but in the past year the media interest in the story has died down regardless of the fact that there has not yet been a resolution. Boko Haram have also recently formally aligned themselves with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is a worrying development for everyone across Africa especially West Africa.
The main aim of Ripples is to empower women, so the spread of Boko Haram is not great news for us given that they openly disdain western education, and aim to establish an Islamic State in northern Nigeria. The translation of ‘Boko Haram’ in the local language of Hausa literally means ‘Western education is forbidden’.
Here at Ripples we think the exact opposite. We firmly believe that empowering and educating African women sparks a ripple effect that enables them to share their knowledge with their children, and therefore is the key to educating the next generation who will be responsible for shaping the future of Africa.
Ripples is working in communities of States where Boko Haram remains a clear and present danger. Our CEO and the Ripples team in Nigeria visited our women a couple of weeks ago, and met women in the communities who have been terrorised, abducted and some raped, and many families have been displaced.The presence of Boko Haram is always there, but currently it has not stopped us from carrying out our work, and nor we hope will it!
To take a closer look at how we operate in Africa and the work that we carry out, visit our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ripplesinafrica/featured where you can find a variety of films showcasing our work.
To donate to our cause please visit https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/donate/bme-concern and help us#‎MakeChangeHappen!
Andre Martins Web Developer

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