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Sunday, December 14, 2008

ooof SM4SC and what next!

Wow what a week. My head is spinning from all the discussions and possibilities from our workshop in Kenya. So it's 3 a.m. and I'm back home, and here I am again at the computer. My New Year's resolution is to work less, but it's not New Year's yet... and I'm still on Kenya time, so fell asleep at 6 and woke up at 1.30. So why not grab my coffee and get going. Photo: one of the 'take aways' on the last day.

I have a zillion ideas and things to think about. How to support the different people and offices present at our workshop to build in more social media and technology to improve our programs and reach/impact.

The last couple days were amazing, with presentations by/about youth and how they are using blogging, mobiles and other technology for health and learning. We talked about citizen journalism and thought about how to apply it to our programs and communications. And there was a LOT of discussion about how organizations need to open up to embrace new kinds of media or they will become irrelevant.
One key thought (originally stated by Ken Banks from FrontlineSMS.com and then taken up by everyone) was that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. That people should just do it, just try things, instead of asking for permission to innovate and be creative.
We learned from one participant how blue tooth was used during the Kenya election crisis to get information out to the public... and at the airport on the way home heard about arrests of activists in Nairobi and increasing media censorship.
We talked about how organizations need to modernize and open up new ways to engage the public in their work based on concepts of social media. We used SMS to send messages and talked through specific ways we could use Frontline SMS (http://www.frontlinesms.org/) to make it easier for children to get birth certificates and access their rights at citizens. Imagine instead of having to trek miles to the district capital if mobiles could help communicate and ease that process. We looked at specific existing projects and thought about how to use SMS and other social media to improve them.

We presented and discussed the YETAM project, and heard things like "every country should do this" and got great feedback for making the project more relevant and to increase its impact from the local level upwards. I had a lot of time to brainstorm with Mimi (the link between YETAM and Nokia via Plan Finland) for once about the project and to start working out the action plan for next year. Photo: Me and Mimi


We heard so many opinions from everyone, and the French translation and bi-lingual nature of the workshop meant that we heard from everyone there, whereas often those who speak French keep quiet since English is the 'official working language'. Photo: PapaSidy and Bedo.







Our external experts stayed with us the whole week and added so much to the conversation.

Really an amazing time. We tracked the workshop on a collective blog (http://sm4sc.maneno.org/eng/) so people could practice, and posted photos on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/whiteafrican/sets/72157610896848364/.

Now Mika and I will do the report. We asked people to state a few concrete ways they will follow up on the workshop and then our job along with the different offices involved is to support their work and help address any challenges or obstacles that come up. Photo: the fearless Mika!
(And we had a "Bush Dinner" with a fire and music the last night")

So our work is cut out for us next year.... and it's about 90% sure that I'll get to extend my secondment for another year to focus on YETAM's next countries and SM4SC follow up.
Yippeee!

2 comments:

  1. AWESOME job guys - sounds like not only did you have a great time but also the focus and ideas will create that momentum for change (which is needed) - well done...

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  2. It was a pleasure working with you and Mika on this (and, of course, the other invited 'experts' and the amazing Plan staff).

    The hard work now begins!

    Looking forward to helping you move things, errr, forward. =)

    Ken
    www.kiwanja.net

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