Award winner

30 Apr

Aid20 has won an award! A BJTC award for best radio feature to be precise. I was over the moon when I found out a few months ago. Last week I went and picked up a certificate from the radio legend Simon Bates – a very kind, funny and interesting man. You can see some (embarrassing) photos Here.

Thankyou to University College Falmouth and Send A Cow for the continuing support.

Great news!


One World Media Shortlist

21 Feb

Aid20 has made the One World Media Shortlist. I’m delighted! Next round: nominations in Mid March. Fingers crossed!…

National Geographic Weekend

4 Jan

Happy New Year!

In an all too familiar style I’ve been useless at blogging recently. So as it’s the new year I will make no false promises. I don’t promise to blog every day or to do anything like that. I do, however, hope to continue this blog in some form or another. So do please keep checking back.

It would have been far more apt at the end of 2011, but I did want to quickly mention the interview I recorded with National Geographic Weekend – a fantastic radio programme coming out of Washington DC. Don’t worry, you can also listen online – It was great fun chatting with Boyd Matson and you can listen to me squirm and mumble through my time on the other side of the microphone here… if you like!

It’s a great fantastic programme. Please follow National Geographic Weekend on twitter too

2011 in review

2 Jan

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


3 Nov

Send A Cow farmer Regina

Regina’s interesting mobile phone project is simple. She lives in a remote community outside Busia in west Kenya, and is a one of Send A Cow’s peer farmers (which means that due to her success with organic farming, she now trains other farmers in agricultural techniques.) As more and more of her neighbours begin to buy and use mobile phones, she saw a business opportunity.

At her house, Regina has electricity, but she is in a minority. Most of her neighbours have to travel a long way to reach charging stations. They’re not uncommon in the region, but it usually means a trip to the nearest town or village which can take a whole day there and back.

For these small scale farmers, time is precious. They don’t want to waste it. Unfortunately, one of the burdens of owning a mobile phone is it’s battery life, and to keep it topped up, trips to the town and to electricty are essential.

Enter Regina…

This is Regina’s charging station. By investing in a variety of charging adapters, a broad enough selection to fit the most popular mobile handsets, she offers mobile phone charging on her neighbours doorsteps at 10 Kenyan shillings (just less than 6 and a half pence) a go.

Regina’s charging station is an example of how mobile phones are seeping into the everyday consciousness of people in rural Kenya. Knowing that many of the farmers I interviewed didn’t have electricity in their homes, I often asked them whether this was a problem for them, but they rarely told me that it was. Either they get used to charging when they’re in town. Or they look for other solutions, like Regina, like this or even like this! 

As entrepreneurs go, you have to hand it to Regina who saw an opportunity, and used it to her economic advantage, alongside the money she earns from her farm.

And it’s not her only side-project. She also dabbles in incubation…

National Geographic

3 Nov

During my trip, I found FrontlineSMS to be one of the most innovative and widely used tech-mechanisms for social change. – Especially in Kenya.

Today, a blog post which I wrote about FrontlineSMS, and it’s users has been published on the National Geographic Newswatch blog, curated by Ken Banks, founder of FrontlineSMS and National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

I’m very proud and I’d be delighted if you took a look.

What did you expect?

18 Oct

A shopfront near Busia, Kenya

Have you ever been to somewhere new and thought, this isn’t what I expected. Maybe you’ve even told whoever you’re with, only to be confronted with the question, ‘well what did you expect?’. And you think…you know, I don’t know.

In many ways, travelling to Kenya and Ethiopia fulfilled many of my expectations. Mobile phones, as twitter would suggest, are truly everywhere. Everyone, in fact most of the adult population use MPESA to control their finances. But for some reason, if you’d told me that I would see phone masts rising amongst hilltops and eucalyptus trees I would have found it very hard to picture.

Which is funny really…

I admit, it was rather ignorant of me.

But one of the biggest lessons I learnt from the people that took their time to talk to me during my trip, I learnt from their reaction to my questions. The tilted head, the vague and baffled eyes when I asked if I could stop asking questions about their farm and speak to them about their mobile phone.

With the huge impact that mobile phones are having in the developing world, it can be easy to imagine that these revolutionary devices are the pride and joy of their owners, locked away and treasured above any other possessions.

But an egg is an egg is an egg. And a phone is a phone is a phone. True, they’ve become extrememly important to people. But they are still buried in people’s pockets, flung in baskets, and abandoned on bar tops.

In many ways this is their great beauty. In taking little steps to improve people’s everyday, they enable the big changes and make the giant statistics.

The radio documentary

23 Sep

Photo by tungphoto

I’m pleased to say that the 20 minute radio documentary part of my project is finally up on my website and you can find it here.

Any feedback would be gratefully received!

Oh and don’t forget to listen to my interviewees as they talk for ’30 seconds on…’ interesting agricultural, technological and Afrocentric topics.

I’ll keep updating this and other parts of my site!


The hand in

19 Sep

I’ve always had pre-hand in nerves. Today was no exception. Check
it, check it again, find an insignificant double space or weak choice of word,
go back to the start and check it again. Until finally, you pluck up the
courage to part with the product of hours of concentration and procrastination
and submit. That pretty much sums up today’s hand in. – The written
evaluation of my documentary and the production process that went along with

Being an ex-literature student, I enjoy analysing. Forget a
difficult Sudoku or a word search, give me a bit of Keats or a couple of
sonnets, and I will underline, highlight and annotate until my heart’s content.
But analysing Aid20 was different. I found it exceptionally hard to focus my
thoughts. The documentary has consumed so much of my time and so many of my
thoughts this year that 5000 words just didn’t seem to be enough to put it all
into words. However, with lots of subtitles and heavy editing (and re-editing)
I’ve finally submitted what I hope is a comprehensive analysis of the entire
process, and only a few words over the 5000 guide.

So the coursework is complete. All that remains is for me to
polish off the additions to the audiovisual areas of this website.

Almost… I hope that this won’t be the end. Far from it. I will
endeavour to continue blogging about my findings and new developments. I’ll
also be adding to the content that’s available here.

Once it’s tweaked, I aim to make my radio documentary available
online if anyone should want to give it a listen. I’m not done quite yet!

Spot the difference?

5 Sep

You may have noticed some changes on my website. I have three new
pages where I will be posting some video, audio and photographs which I took to
accompany the radio documentary.

And while we’re on the subject, the documentary is finished and
handed in! Friday was the hand in, which goes some way to explain my silence
online for the last week and a bit. It got a bit frantic at the end, it always
does doesn’t it?! I was tweaking until 11am on Friday, but it
eventually came together in my first ever twenty minutes of radio documentary.
Very exciting.

I was surprised at how quickly I made progress. I’d been practically
having nightmares about Audition. But sticking to my guns, and editing at home
proved to be the right choice in the end. Several times, I got up out of bed at
midnight feeling guilty at having one too little of it
during the evening. I swear some kind of magic happens at that time of night
and I had some productive spells. As the bank holiday drew to a close, I dared
to preview the programme to a select few, which proved to be a very valuable
thing to do. -I made some quite radical changes to the structure, and managed
to chop the programme down from nearly thirty minutes to twenty.

And then it was time to get arty! (Or at least as creative as I
dared.) Authenticity was so important to me whilst producing my documentary. I
wanted the programme to have a flavour of Ethiopia and Kenya, and for them to be
easily distinguishable from each other. So I used actuality, music and sound
effects, as well as pieces I had recorded, trying to describe as best I could
my surroundings.

So, the big question… am I pleased with the result? Well, yes, I
suppose I am fairly. But it’s not over yet, not until I get everything up on
here and looking lovely. I’m working on it! So keep your eyes peeled during the