Friday, 26 May 2017

Equal Times - Period pains: Menstrual Hygiene Day to raise global awareness on how traditions impact education and employment

When 15-year-old Roshani Tiruwa lay down to sleep close to an open fire in a small mud hut last December, she was unaware that the smoke from the fire would suffocate her. Why was such a young girl sleeping alone just metres from her family home? Because Roshani was on her period.

Her death on 16 December was the second within a month in Nepal’s western Achram district caused by women being banished from their family homes because of cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation. Dambara Upadhyay, 21, was found dead in a hut on 19 November under similar circumstances, according to various news reports.

The ancient Hindu practice of chaupadi considers menstruating women to be impure. Those who uphold the practice forbid women and girls from touching men or even entering their own homes, and prohibit them from eating certain foods. Disastrous consequences are believed to follow transgression, such as crop failure…

Read the full story on Equal Times.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Former DfID political adviser on UK aid direction and his new role at Plan International UK

Before our interview, Simon Bishop — recently appointed director of policy and programs at Plan International U.K. — insists that the topic of his previous employer is off-limits.

As a special political adviser to the United Kingdom’s former Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening, Bishop spent two and a half years providing political, policy and media advice that shaped the direction of the government’s development strategy.

Although some of the controversial policies announced by the Department for International Development since Greening and Bishop left in July last year may have been gestating while he was in the post, Bishop refuses to comment on them. “Mischievous journalists can turn that into nice headlines,” he told Devex. “I've got to be careful”…

Read the full story on

Monday, 24 April 2017

Could unemployed youth solve the health care worker crisis?

According to the World Health Organization40 million new health and social care jobs must be created globally by 2030 to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3 of universal health coverage. At the same time, global youth unemployment reached 71 million in 2016, according to International Labour Organization data. Could the two problems be used to solve each other?

Director of the Health Workforce Department at the WHO Jim Campbell believes they could. He says it’s time to “join the dots” between the shortage of health care workers and young unemployed people. Campbell told Devex that development practitioners need to approach the solution in a non-traditional way, and create new training models for the next cohort of skilled health professionals.

It is already happening in some countries, he says. Afghanistan and Ethiopia have both created accelerated training programs to help get more young people into health care. And while there may not be specific pots of money available for health training for youth, he points out that many international funding organizations have marked out job creation or health and education as priorities…

Read the full story on Devex.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

3 global development organizations 'bringing charity home'

In January, the International Rescue Committee launched its first-ever emergency fundraising appeal to support refugees exclusively in the U.S. In the charity’s 84-year history, funds have paid for the organization’s work as a whole, in the U.S. and abroad. But following President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees for 120 days — and Syrian refugees indefinitely — the IRC said it anticipated funding gaps to provide immediate aid for refugees on arrival and beyond, including housing, cultural orientation, health care, education, employment and immigration services.

The case is one of a number in which recent international events have prompted global development and humanitarian organizations to begin delivering aid on home-turf, or fundraising specifically for domestic projects, for the first time.

Faced with a migrant crisis, increasingly isolationist policies and the impact of globalization across borders, many development organizations headquartered in Europe and the U.S. are looking inward…

Read the full story on

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Equal Times - Youth unemployment: “Young people have the right to opportunities”

'Fatin (not her real name) is in her twenties and is unemployed. She lives in the rural village of Al Tireh in the West Bank of occupied Palestine, where few job opportunities exist.

But having received skills training from a local charity, Fatin and some fellow local women are opening a children’s nursery this month and will earn their own money. “We really needed help to make the transition,” she explains. “We want to improve ourselves, village and community. We can make a difference with skills.”

Recent research published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows Fatin’s situation is typical of her region, and increasingly, of young people globally. Its 2016 World Employment andSocial Outlook report states that just over 30 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region are currently unemployed – more than in any other region...'

Read the full story on Equal Times.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Guardian Weekend Magazine - Experience: I escaped from the Moonies

'Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I was drawn to an alternative way of life. I was the son of a businessman and I wanted to discover the meaning of life beyond materialism; I felt religion may hold the answers. After school, I trained as an accountant, but hated it. My plan was to live in a bread delivery van that I’d converted and offer people handyman services in return for payment in kind.

One day, a man knocked on my van and invited me to join his community for a weekend. They were the Moonies, named after their Korean founder Sun Myung Moon, and they were operating from a farmhouse just outside Reading. The community of 15 was led by a local man and his wife; it was clean, drug-free and essentially Christian, all of which appealed to me. By the end of the weekend, I had agreed to stay for six months...'

Read the full story on the Guardian Online.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Devex - 7 ways to support women and girls who escape abductions

"Nongovernmental organizations working in Nigeria have called for renewed focus on supporting women and girls who escape abduction, as the country marked the second anniversary of the Chibok school kidnappings last week.

Two hundred and nineteen of the 276 girls abducted on April 14, 2014, from their secondary school in northeastern Nigeria by Muslim militant group Boko Haram are still missing. But aid organizations working in the country say concentrating on their rescue is not enough. Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls in the country since 2012, according to estimates from charities International Alert and Amnesty International. Those who return from abduction also need support.

Boko Haram characteristically forces captive girls to marry its members. Many are raped and become pregnant as a result. Devex spoke to Kimairis Toogood, International Alert’s senior peace-building adviser and The Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s Nigeria Country Director De Luther-King Fasehun about the best ways to support the women and girls who survive such ordeals..."

Read the full article at

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Liberia article up for One World Media award

My article on children and young people living in a Liberian cemetery has made the long list for the 2016 One World Media Awards.

The piece, published alongside photos taken by award-winning photographer Hannah Maule-ffinch, was published in the Independent Magazine.

One World Media will announce the final three nominations for the Press category of the awards in late April.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Winner: Amnesty International Best New Journalist

My reporting of the Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia was recognised at the Amnesty International Media Awards last night, where I was handed the Gaby Rado Memorial Award.

The articles published in the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Independent on Sunday sought to highlight the broader impact of the disease on already impoverished communities.

The stories showed how people were dying not just from the virus itself, but from fear and as a result of the government and international community's inadequate response.

They also highlighted the vital role local NGOs played in the response, particularly charity Street Child.

My entry as presented at the awards ceremony by BBC world affairs correspondent Mike Thomson

Part of my acceptance speech

The Gaby Rado Memorial Award recognises the work of a journalist who has been covering human rights issues for less than five years.

Click here for links to the winning articles.