Yesterday I was at The Future of Diaspora Volunteering in Development Conference
This is what was important to me:
- The people and organisations represented – some of them big players and others very small (see The Future of Diaspora Volunteering in Development Conference details for some of them)
- The repeated issue of disconnects and the need for stories
The need for stories ties in with work I’m doing with Dadamac Foundation – Where we help Changemakers to:
- Tell their stories.
- Share their knowledge.
- Connect with supporters.
- Increase their influence – individually and as a group.
The Development Volunteering Alliance (DVA) is a London based group and is interested in Diaspora stories. I found more overlap than I expected between the interests of DVA and those of Dadamac, and I’m starting to think about Dadamac Changemakers in terms of the Diaspora and volunteering.
Peter Adetunji Oyawale
The late Peter Adetunji Oyawale (who got me involved in UK-Africa connections in the first place) was a Nigerian living in London. His story is another example of someone in the Diaspora wanting to help people back home, and freely giving his own time and his other resources to forward that vision. It was a sustainable vision, but there was no external funding to help him get started with the Committee for African Welfare and Development (CAWD) and Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 Plus (OCDN 2000+).
John Dada (the “Dada”of Dadamac) is back in Nigeria now, where he has been working in a voluntary capacity as a very hands-on director of Fantsuam Foundation for many years. He was living in the UK when he co-founded Fantsuam Foundation with some other Nigerian professionals. He was a fellow at Leeds University, and intending to live the life of an academic economic migrant, helping people back home by sending money. But he found out that “sending money was not enough” and gradually he was drawn back to live in rural Nigeria. He still comes back to UK when he can, as it is in many ways his second home. I think this qualifies his story for inclusion as a Diaspora Volunteer.
Telling unfolding stories at a distance
The emphasis of Dadamac’s work has been the work we do at a distance thanks to the Internet (which grew out of my working holidays in Ago-Are and at Fantsuam). Our story-telling experience comes through regular online meetings and blogs. Nikki Fishman did the blogging for several years, until the end of 2012, and has now restarted. See Nikki’s blogs at www.dadamac.org and www.dadamac.net
Through our collaboration with John Dada and the Fantsuam Foundation team we came to recognise what was important and valuable in our two-way communication (although we struggled to explain this value in words). We recognise that it is not only changemakers who have moved to Africa who need help in telling theer stories.
In 2013 Julliet Makhapela and I became friends. Julliet is a Kenyan living in London. She is giving her time to work on projects she is developing in Kenya and also with the Diaspora here in London. Like John and Peter, she has had to start with no external support.
Elfneh Bariso is another friend. We met through an Africa Diaspora Development Day (AD3) organised by AFFORD. I guess that was more than ten years ago. Elfneh works freely for a project he has set up back home in Ethiopia – AHEAD
Disconnects and patterns
The issue of disconnects came up often yesterday, and the need for stories to bridging the disconnects.
Disconnects and connections are at the heart of many of my interests. That makes it hard to explain my focus. It’s not obvious to people that my I’m concerned more with “the space between” and “the connecting patterns” that link the many things they can see I’m interested in (rather than the things themselves).
As I see it, behind the disconnects and need for stories, there is a pattern that people kept returning to yesterday at The Future of Diaspora Volunteering in Development Conference
I’ve been exploring stories and patterrns in the Dadamac Study Group – Dadamac and Pattern Language. I’ve been looking at the book – The Oregon Experiment by Christopher Alexander, Murray Silverstein, Shlomo Angel, Sara Ishikawa, Denny Abrams – and considering how the lessons learned there apply to the work of Dadamac and the changemakers. So far I’ve read the book and commented on it – Dadamac Study Group – Dadamac and Pattern Language. Later I’ll go back and write a conclusion.