Last month, I was at a meeting with more than eighty campaigners from around the world in a single room in Tanzania.
We were from Save the Children and the White Ribbon Alliance, swapping notes on the best campaign ideas for maternal and child survival.
It was an amazing opportunity to learn from a vast pool of talent. The room was big enough to crown a prince in!
It was an obvious collaboration between the White Ribbon Alliance and Save the Children, who are campaigning for mothers and babies respectively. You can’t really separate those two in the larger scheme of things!
I was impressed by how large the membership was for the White Ribbon Alliance. Marry that with some Save the Children resources and strategy, and hooha – what a fabulous recipe for change!
Tante, a man from the White Ribbon Alliance in Nigeria, was wearing traditional clothes. He called us around, and we sat on the floor to listen to his story, like they do in his village after a hard day’s work, he said.
He told of women who threatened to undress in front of the parliament building if their bill wasn’t passed. Sure enough, it was !
I thought: a good story is a good story. It can change people’s minds – in any setting.
We need to use the power of storytelling more in our campaign work.
Freedom for ideas
The best part of the meeting for me was having the freedom to come up with ideas for sessions – and chair them – so we could focus our discussions on things that interested us most.
I signed up to write notes for quite a few sessions, and I found myself writing and writing and writing – there were so many ideas!
I can’t wait to have access to them all as I couldn’t go to all the sessions and would really love to know what went on in all of them.
It was also great to see campaigners from different countries get together and have fun.
One evening, there was a bit of impromptu karaoke. It was amazing to see people from as far apart as Canada, Malawi, India, Kenya and the UK rocking to the same music. It didn’t matter if the tune was in Swahili or Hindi. Music unites.
I had an idea – a campaign song in several world languages!
With a bagful of fresh ideas and friendships new and old, I am back in Pretoria, South Africa, planning my next move.
As someone said: it was one of the best Skills Shares, ever!