Maya Angelou said it best ‘when you learn, teach, when you get, give’. This phrase is my philosophy on how I approach life and it has inspired me to share my experience in journalism with the girls at Heshima Kenya. I get to teach journalism to a group of girls who are amazing! Journalism gives them the opportunity not only to exercise their freedom of expression but also the ability to access information. My job is to guide them in utilizing that freedom. Sometimes they quip that they cannot be journalists because they are refugees and I simply tell them that they have gone through great adversities to be where they are, hence, nothing can bar them from achieving their dreams.
Every day is a different experience simply because we strive to learn from each other. Our class sessions give the girls the opportunity to converse and interact on issues such as human rights. Due to the fact that the girls come from different backgrounds, they are able to share what they have experienced and learn from each other. For instance, Fatuma, who is one of my students, is writing a story on the challenges of refugees who have different forms of disability. Such experience not only boosts their confidence but also gives them the opportunity to creatively come up with stories that educate and inform different audiences.
Currently the journalism class is creating a newsletter and news pieces that could be shared with audiences and readers. Hopefully people will become more aware of the issues that surround refugee girls as these stories emerge from their point of view. A report by Graca Machel on the impact of conflict on children recognizes that media and communication can be used to engage adolescents in their own survival and development. Once young people are empowered and motivated by information that is relevant to their lives, they can be more easily engaged and involved in decision making and program planning.
Imgard Rop is a communications intern with Heshima Kenya. She recently graduated from the University of Nairobi with a degree in journalism and is freelancing with various documentary projects.