Tuesday 15 February 2011

Taking steps towards the goal

Yesterday I (Pete) spoke to my colleague, Anne, in Nigeria and Charles in Uganda. This three-way conversation - conference call if you like - is nothing new in the western world where virtual meetings are becoming ever-more the norm. Yet in an African context where electricity is often sporadic and internet connections are prohibitively slow, such a way of communicating is unheard of in most parts.

Virtual communications won't replace face-to-face contact. In fact we are increasing the amount of visits we make to our volunteers across the continent of Africa as we develop the communications structure. We are looking to develop a combination of roving reporters, who meet with YWAM teams in remote areas, gather information about their work and then feed it into regional 'hubs' for it to be collected and broadcast and passed on to the relevant parties.

With over 100 training locations and 1,000's of outreach initiatives happening across this continent, it is impossible to expect every one to just 'email' us the news. We are becoming ever more pro-active and
going to where the work is happening, encouraging those in isolated circumstances and advocating the work to a wider audience.

Speaking with Charles yesterday, his passion for communications is wonderful. With little resources to hand (their team has just one computer, one printer and a slow, expensive dial-up internet connection) yet he is passionate about putting East Africa and the work in the countries there on the map. Lydia, my colleague, will be travelling up to Uganda to meet with him in just over three weeks and then from there they'll take a trip up to Sudan to meet with volunteers there and find out what is happening on the ground.

Meantime, Anne is passionate about developing a stronger presence of the already good work done in West Africa. Based in Jos in the middle of Nigeria, her work entails meeting with and encouraging those across a vast region with many hundreds of tribes and tongues.

I'm really excited about the future of AfriCom and how we have a mandate to meet those in mission/volunteer work, encourage them and report the great things that they are doing. We are pioneering new ways of communicating, mixing the essential face-to-face contact needed in Africa with the cutting edge technology which means we can collect video interviews and publicise them online from some of the remotest areas.

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