I'm so proud to work with these families to give people in the UK a clear picture of what motherhood is like in rural Kenya. With so much discussion in the press last week about how charities choose to represent the people they work with in African countries, I wanted to share with you some of the ways we’re innovating in comms at Child.org through Team Mum and our commitment to do this well.
Beyond consent forms
Donata, Conzolata, Lilian, Mercy, Ruth, Winfred and Sarah are active members of Team Mum. Just like a Team Mum supporter in the UK, they’ve contributed their time to improve the lives of mums in local communities in rural Kenya. Like any responsible charity, Child.org always ensure that anyone featured in our marketing has given formal consent, and understands how their pictures and stories will be used.
But we want to go further. That’s why I’ve been working with our Nairobi team, Charity Fast-Trackers and partners to explore ways to provide people with the photographs we take, and to thank them for their support.
In recent years, we’ve been working with better access to technology and the internet and our Kenyan team have been delivering more of our programming work directly. This opens up more opportunities for Child.org to aim higher in terms of the relationship we have with the people whose stories we share.
Here’s what we’re aiming for…
1. Share our content with those featured in it
Where possible, if we collect a great image, we want to share that picture with the person featured in it! The Baby Box photos we took of babies last year were shared back with mums via WhatsApp. For those mums featured in our Team Mum appeal, we had copies of all the beautiful campaign photos printed and framed the best. When the team returned to Meru last week with our Ride Africa riders, they had the chance to deliver these to some of the mums in person. Family photographs are rare and expensive in these communities, so it was lovely to be able to provide these for the families.
In these photos, Faith (yellow jacket) and Cherio (in glasses) from the Child.org Nairobi team are with Margaret from our local partner organisation (in orange). They're presenting Winfred and Donata with their framed photographs.
2. Value and thank the people who donate their stories
If someone in Kenya takes time to share their story with us and appear in photos, their contribution to our work is as valuable as that of someone in the UK who’s hosting a cake sale in their office. We want to value and thank these story-sharers for that contribution wherever we can. At The Shindig on 1 Feb, our UK supporters signed thank you cards for the women featured in our Team Mum campaign. Here's a picture of Rozie, one of our amazing Team Mum comms parners and volunteers, adding her thanks and message of thanks for the mums:
3. Dignity and positivity
When sharing a photo or video of someone we work with, Child.org staff ask ourselves: “Would I proudly share that photo publicly on Instagram if it was a photo of my friend’s child, or a member of my family?” If the answer is no, we don’t share it. That’s why you’ll only ever see photos and videos from us of people having a good day and bossing it.
4. Three-dimensional stories
If we’re using a person’s photo, we want to tell you their name (unless we’re protecting their identity for safeguarding reasons) and give them a voice. We want you to know something about them that makes them unique. We want to tell you about the hard work they’re putting in to improve their own life and the lives of others in their community (it's ludicrous that Child.org team should get all the credit!) Check out the contributions made by headteacher Walter, health teacher Phylis and primary pupil Zulea - just a few of the hardworking people I met on a brief visit to our HealthStart schools in 2017.
5. Support our network to do better too
Child.org are looking at how we can offer more advice to those who visit our programmes, whether they go to work on a Charity Fast-Track placement or to learn about our work on a visit at the end of their Ride Africa cycle ride. If you’re visiting our projects, we’ll support you in presenting yourself and the people you meet on your social media in a way that is hopeful and empowering, not harmful.
We’re proud to receive regular feedback from supporters who say that they find our comms materials positive and empowering. But we can always do better. If you have feedback or comments about our communications I would love to hear from you - email me at email@example.com or give me a ring in the Child.org office on 07751768207.
If you like the way Child.org do things - then please support us. We are small and brave and we need your support to grow our impact. Join Team Mum monthly and help us build a stable future for Child.org by providing reliable funding for our work with mums and babies.
If you don't feel like to can donate regularly, show your respect for the commitment of the epic mums you've read about in our comms - join Team Mum with a donation today. Just £10 can provide a new mum with a pack of baby essentials, encouraging her to join one of our new pregnancy support groups.