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Posts Tagged ‘Pallavi Shah’

Rewind to August 2010; Pallavi Shah reported back from a capacity building workshop in Mbeya, Tanzania. Participating in that workshop was a young activist, Tumaini James, fighting for the rights of women and gender equality in Tanzania. Fast forward five months; Tumaini James has been busy using the skills he gained in the workshop to bring about historic change in the Tanzanian Parliament.  Below is Tumaini’s story, reporting from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Tumaini James took part in EIA skills training last year

Tumaini James took part in EIA skills training last year

I am young activist working at Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (www.tgnp.org). I participated in 10 days Visual documentation for advocacy training  in Mbeya- a joint programme organized by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) with her Tanzania partners WCST, JET and LEAT. That was wonderful and revolutionary training I have ever attended. From there I acquired practical skills in using GPS, capturing pictures and shooting videos for advocacy. Also I learn campaign strategies including press releases & conferences, demonstration, publications, ICTs and mainstream media.

Five months since the Visual training for advocacy, I have been able to apply skills acquired from the training to document Gender and development. In October 2010, the Presidential Elections were won by the CCM party. After one month later Parliamentary Election followed. Never before, has a woman been chosen to be a Parliamentary Speaker. For the Parliamentary elections, I produced a short video and photo stories advocating for a woman to be selected as the Parliamentary Speaker of the 10th National Assembly during the Parliamentary Election for a Speaker.

I captured pictures and speech, and produce picture story with a speech in background using a windows movie maker. Then I shared through different media including social media. Two days after press release the ruling CCM political party decided that the position of Parliamentary Speaker within their party should go to a woman. It was truly a historical moment, the first time the TZ National assembly to have a woman a Speaker of Parliament.

Find our video series at TGNP website (www.tgnp.org)  At the bottom right of our website there are photo stories on Election Press release (TAMKO la uchaguzi mkuu).

Tumaini Macha

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A few days ago I watched with intrigue as ‘Dada’ (sister in Swahilii) Mwakalukwa handled the digital camera with uncertainty and curiosity and such tenderness as if it may just break in her hands. With deliberate care, slowly she snapped a photo and her face beamed with pride.

Pallavi Shah shows Dada Mwakalukwa how to handle a digital camera for the first time in EIA's capacity building project in Tanzania

Dada Mwakalukwa, like most of her fellow participants, had never used a digital camera before this day. Yet, here in Mbeya, a small town in the Southern highlands of Tanzania and a 13-hour bus journey from Dar es Salaam, we had the challenging task of training Dada Mwakalukwa and 19 other representatives of local NGOs to use stills cameras, video cameras and GPS systems.

The training is part of an innovative three year project by EIA to empower NGOs and communities across Tanzania with skills and equipment to enable them to visually document the issues that affect them; to capture visual evidence of the violation of their rights and the destruction of their environment; to use the power of visual media to advocate for change by taking to the decision maker compelling testimony of the reality of their situation on the ground. The same techniques used by EIA.

Over the last two years, the journey has taken EIA and its three Tanzanian partners (Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, Journalists Environmental Association Tanzania and the Lawyers Environmental Action Team) from the Southern most wilderness of Tanzania to its central mountains to the shores of Lake Victoria.

The five training workshops we have held have given new skills and equipment to 83 local activists, working on a range of issues including natural resources, HIV, gender and community rights. Eighteen camera kits have been distributed across the country, creating, for the first time ever a national network of cross-sector organisations sharing equipment and collaborating together to achieve similar goals.

Despite its many challenges, this year the project has begun to bear fruit and we have witnessed the first outputs and successes.

In a country so vast, so varied from region to region, every training offers a unique experience. The training is intense for both participants and the partners. Over ten days participants are taught to undertake research, use cameras and GPSs to collect information, to write press releases and access media and develop strong advocacy strategies. The days are long. Living conditions are often very basic with only a bucket of cold water to bathe.

In Mbeya, as the temperatures drop to 4°C, the evenings are spent huddled under starry skies at a roadside joint blaring local ‘Bongo Flava’ tunes; the local gin brings some warmth.  Kerosene lamps cast a dim glow as the team tucks into ‘nyama choma’ (barbequed meat) and chips – a staple diet in rural Tanzania. Being vegetarian, as usual, I settle for roast bananas and a little treat from my Tiffin box.

After a gruelling ten days, Dada Mwakalukwa presents the footage, photos and a campaign strategy of a local issue she focused on during the course of the training. The visuals are outstanding. From not having used any of the technology before, the transformation is remarkable. I feel so proud. She speaks with a newfound confidence, she speaks with determination; she speaks with the voice of change.

Pallavi Shah, Project Coordinator, Reporting from Mbeya

Find out more on EIA’s capacity building projects

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