Come Dine with a TBF Star – Mrs Moneypenny

Watching my usual dose of Come Dine with Me and I was pleasantly surprised to see the lovely orange hat and even lovelier owner Mrs Moneypenny. I love this woman not only because she is a great influence in my life but she has a heart for people and a great spirit to succeed.

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A former investment banker who worked leaps and bounds and attained an MBA and a PhD from reputable institutions around the world. She has authored 6 books and presented 6 series of UK Channel 4’s Superscrimpers. She runs her own successful London business and contributes in a weekly column in the Financial Times since 1999. I had the opportunity to learn from her through the Taylor Bennett Foundation, which she champions and is still involved in. Mrs Moneypenny advocates to equip those with a desire to succeed, and I am fortunate to have had that opportunity.

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Trainees on my programme, see our blog entries

I am a product of a wonderful programme run by the Taylor Bennett Foundation (TBF) which directly addresses the lack of diversity in the communications and PR industry since 2008. Exactly 3 years ago I completed the programme and emerged a communications professional but not without hard work and determination.

The application process is very intense. I was just telling my mother what the assessment centre consisted of. Two words – SPEED INTERVIEWING. I haven’t experienced speed dating but I am sure a similar buzz is felt in the room. 21 candidates spoke to 21 interviewers for a few minutes and then moved to the left to the next interviewer. With each encounter you were sure to replicate all those things Google told you to do for good interview etiquette. Some of the questions I received were, “A hobby you put down is singing, why?” “Why do you want to do the programme” or my personal favourite that I got asked a couple of times “Tell me about yourself.” In 2 minutes, I had to be clever, courteous, coherent and comprehensible, not to mention charming. Then stand up and do that all again with another interviewer. Intense. I must have done something right because I was chosen to be a trainee on the programme and my life has never been the same.

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Media training at the Royal Bank of Scotland equipped me to do a short web series

Monday Motivation

See the Episode

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Facebook page for the web series

Mrs Moneypenny does more than share her wisdom with the nation to scrimp and save, she is very hardworking and has taught me not to let anything stand in your way to achieving your goals. I applied her networking advice and that saw me work from intern of an amazing organisation to, within a year, addressing the International Board about engagement at a movement-wide general assembly streamed live across the world. Only possible through the training from professionals responsible for FTSE 100 companies. It all began with an application.

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I encourage all bright, ambitious and outstanding candidates to apply for the next programme starting in Spring 2015 and urge those who would like to support the programme to do so. Before Taylor Bennett Foundation I had no idea what PR was but because of the training, I am a passionate PR professional all thanks to a TBF Star Mrs Moneypenny. She is a hero who equips willing individuals to be the best they can be.

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Modern Day Slavery and Modern Day Egypt

The two top stories in the news agenda have encouraged me to write about my experience and research into those two aspects, these comments are entirely my own. I was in Cairo during the protests against Mubarak and subsequently wrote my final year dissertation on child domestic workers in Egypt.

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Egyptian Arab Spring and Modern Day Slavery

In 2011, both modern day situations were foreign to me but I found myself immersed in their dialogue and urged to participate in varying ways. I barely knew Mubarak but after 3 weeks of being in the country my passion for his removal grew. I witnessed abject poverty and wondered how a growing economy could have such destitution. So much so, families would send their little girls (usually) to work as child domestic workers. I did my semester abroad at the American University of Cairo where the wealthiest send their children for tertiary education. I carried out a survey and a sizeable number of participants either had, knew someone who had a child domestic worker. Their little hands indentured in labour difficult for a person much older at the expense of their education. I visited a centre for street children and they all could not understand English but could understand the value an of an education. Their rights trampled on for the sake of survival, many children (more than anyone can count) are clandestine victims of a poor social system.

I had a dissertation to write because of Mubarak’s actions, or lack thereof. I heard many heart-wrenching stories about little girls facing exploitation and sexual abuse because it was ingrained in Egypt’s formal institution that it was lawful to allow children to work. It was the government’s fault why children found themselves in this situation so the government had to go. People were frustrated so they took to the streets, some lost their lives fighting what they believed in. Massacred for starting a movement in favour of the removal of injustice. Those were lost in vain, Egyptian Judicial system has shown that injustice remains. So for those who still have strength to unite in Tahrir Square will fight once more, in a country where dying for justice holds no weight and perpertrators can be released with blood on their hands and not be held accountable.

The UK and Modern Day Slavery

I used “I am Slave” for my dissertation because it portrayed what modern day slavery in societies such as Britain would look like. It was reported today by the home office that it is more common than expected. I have heard stories of Zimbabweans who have had their passports seized and forced to work in terrible constraining conditions. This problem is not unique to the African context but is widespread. This revelation has been met with backlash at David Cameron’s plans to being stringent to European immigrants. Anti-slavery charities have warned that such measures will result in an increase of slavery.

Like the Egyptian context, will there be a revolt of the Government and its stringent measures causing the common man to struggle to such lengths? Food banks are on the increase, child services have failed to protect their beneficiaries and poverty has become rife in modern day Britain. Charities that predominantly focussed on Third world development have reverted back to grass roots programmes to improve the quality of life of British children. The system has failed to protect the most vulnerable.

Many have called for #CameronMustGo which is slogan that was trending on Twitter. 575 683 tweets in the last 30 days stated many reasons and expressed various frustrations, frankly people have had enough of the current government’s aloof attitude to those who are finding it difficult to make ends meet on a day to day.

So should people just sit back while children with mental health issues fail to receive appropriate assistance? Is it acceptable to watch more & more programmes about child carers and children who live in poverty? I say a protests in Trafalgar Square are in order. For the nation’s children, for the Nation’s poor, for the failing system, for justice.

Lost and Found: True Story of an African Hansel and Gretel

“What would you have done if you never found us?” She closed her eyes and seemed to delve into memories of grief relieved. “My world would have been torn apart.”

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Photo: Me and my big brothers. Nathan holding my hand. We were around that age.

My mother and I was recollecting our version  of events of the life – changing events. I was two and some at the time and my older brother was 3. We loved car rides so when a car mechanic offered us one we hopped in the car.  My mother tells me the accident happened paMbudzi, commonly known as the unofficial goat market close to the tollgate leading out of the capital city Harare. I distinctly remember all the traffic lights at that intersection turning green at the same time. Cars flooded in anyway causing carnage and death at the scene. I specifically remember a car full of fully clad apostolic faith members was hit by our car, a fault the mechanic was arrested for. I peered over the door to witness the aftermath and all I could see was the police pulling the mechanic away from the car, that was left in the middle of the road.

A bystander must have seen us and took us out of the car in case another accident would sweep us away.  We were retrieved from the car in such a hurry I left my little Sandak shoe in the car. My brother and I were taken from the only security we had to join the thrall of people at that busy intersection. My brother grabbed my hand and we started walking. “Hande kumba Dali,” (let’s go home Dali) my brother said reassuringly so I followed him with a shoe on.

The sun disappeared as we walked along the streets. My mother tells me it should have been Glen Norah. I whined to my brother about my empty stomach and my tired feet. “Tokumbira chikafu,” (please give us food). My brother placed trust in a lady doing some work outside her house. She asked the obvious questions, “Who are you with? Where do you live?” She promptly took us to the police station so they could help us (My mother tells me it was Glen Norah police station).

The duty officers asked so many questions I did not even know. My brother was brave and was not afraid to answer even if most of the responses were ‘I don’t know’. After a barrage of questions he volunteered the most vital information. “Our telephone number is 304771,” that solved the case. All we could do was wait.

My mother told me her side of the story. That day my mother was being baptised at her church and it was a significant day to show her commitment to God. She came home to distressing news that her two youngest children were involved in an accident and no one knows where they were. She told she broke down for a few minutes and strengthened herself to go out and find her children. “I was looking in the reeds, thinking maybe that is where you were harmed and left to die.” She said she prayed while she was driving, “Lord I have been a good servant to you, I have dedicated my life to you. Please give me back my children.” She went to Waterfalls Police Station where she heard the news that they have been found and they are at Glen Norah police station. She began to make her way to us.

“Ndomuuraya!!!” (I will kill him!!). That woke us up from our sleep as we snuggled in the thin blankets usually given to inmates. “Ndinomupisa murume uyu!” (I will burn this man). I saw a man glistening from head to toe from paraffin, which I assumed was poured by the woman hurling threats. The yelling and fracas increased and I held onto my brother tighter. Not long after their entrance, was their exit. I do not know how it was resolved. We fell asleep again and woke up to my mom’s voice, “Vana vangu!!!” (My children). We struggled to emerge from the blankets so we can run to our mother. She looked us up and down, to check if we were ok, thanked the officers profusely and whisked us out of the station. She couldn’t hide the relief and pent up worry from her voice. All I remember from that is asking if we could still have our usual Saturday burgers and chips dinner because we were starving. “You can have anything that you want.”

“I did not realise how important teaching your children your home telephone number was,” She uttered with a grateful smile.

The End

I have never felt so choked up about telling the story as much as I do now. Much like a Hansel and Gretel tale it was spoken about alot and my brother’s memory was the breadcrumb that led us home. I always thought that we were brave but in actual fact it was my brother who was the rock. I am sure many people have times in their lives where they needed someone to hold them by the hand and guide them through the unknown. Sometimes that can be the change from death to life.

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Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

Hashtag Trends – OXFAM & MSF… be there for which of them?

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The picture that caused people to PROTEST online on Sunday. OXFAM used this image of an MSF worker and an ebola patient (obtained from getty images) to raise funds for their efforts in tackling ebola.

The comment box went crazy with people shouting shame at the ‘deceit’ and ‘masquerading’. Some passionate person started a campaign “say Protest if you disagree” I won’t take sides, even though I did post a comment. The two arguments were:

Argument A

People need help, does it matter where the money goes. Let’s stop focusing on minor details and just stop this terrible situation.

Argument B

Passing off another organisation’s humanitarian efforts as your own is dishonest, especially since that is not your remit of assistance. Money should go to MSF because that’s their work or take down the campaign.

Both arguments were presented by different people and the conversation continued… longer than it should have.

I am choosing to use this situation as a lesson in crisis communications. First lesson and really the fundamental of crisis comms 101.

1) Say something… anything to stop the madness!

OXFAM said nothing… so people went on and on. Facebook users revealed more than the ad campaign represented. A user stated that OXFAM appeared on the ebola emergency scene 7 months late, long after MSF had established operations. That meant they were months behind in scaling up. The ad portrays a different situation.

2) Take stuff down, stop production, stop everything to mitigate further damage

The ad remained and the blood-bath continued beside it. Some people posted the original photo

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Very clever to crop out the MSF flag. Alot of comments were astonished that the photo was still up despite the backlash.  It was Sunday… social media officer was off the clock. The longer it went on, the more revealing the comments became.

3) Blanket sorry don’t cut it…

The Director of Communications issued a statement buried in Twit longer

We’re sorry – we got this wrong – and we’d like to apologise to all who feel misled or deceived by this image or the editorial content of our post. 

The apology was long and explained alot. Great. Astonishingly, the person in charge of the Facebook page messed up further. They copy and pasted the apology in the comments section, fair enough. People weren’t having it. ‘Take down the photo’ some insisted and others said they should give all money they made from that campaign to MSF. So the administrator decided to write, for example, “Dalia we understand your concern but… [copy and past apology]”. “John Doe, you are right that’s why… [copy and paste bits of apology]”
WORST. MISTAKE. EVER!!! There was a barrage of the same message chopped and thrown all over the comments section. It was sloppy to say the least (in my opinion). That further supported accusations of OXFAM being disengenuous. FAIL.

The final nail in the coffin was a Facebook user urging OXFAM to not apologise to those who commented on the facebook but to apologise to MSF and apologise to the people suffering with ebola because OXFAM came 7 months late.

The picture has been removed from the Facebook page.

I say it was a mini crisis not handled well. The fortunate thing is Journos didnt jump on this story because it was pure “charity fundraising abuses” gold. The situation could have been handled better. You got lucky this time.

My views done and dusted, what do you think? Which argument do you support?

My Former Life as a Tele-Fundraiser #NuisanceCalls @C4Dispatches

So I got a job as a telephone fundraiser. It was the hardest job I ever had to do. I only lasted a few weeks and my soul resembled a ruined city and I went into hiding after the ordeal. I was a development / humanitarian student during the time and I was passionate about the causes I was fundraising for. I knew the importance of the much needed funds and saw it as a good opportunity to gain charity experience.

It was a highly stressful job. There were daily targets and pressure to ask ask ask for a donation. If I was calling robots at a convenient time it may have been possible but I was talking to human beings who did not want to be asked for money in their homes.

There were spot listen-ins and if you made a mistake you were corrected. A guy, who was my boyfriend at the time, got fired because he put a call back where a supporter had informed him to call back. He overshot the daily targets but was still fired on the spot.

I remember one day I just got the back end of the caller database where everyone was just being rude. The last person to tell me to f*** off and slam the phone on me sent me into the ladies loo to have a big cry. I felt battered. Then I quit.

Telefundraisers are heros… people don’t realise that they are not the only call a fundraiser has made that day and consider how they would feel if someone was swearing at them for doing their job. It didn’t suit me but it cannot be denied that those funds are needed for those who rely on the work Charities do.

I have to highlight Pell & Bales #proudfundraiser pics.

PNB

6 reasons why Africa need not care what the world thinks

I really like your article and the perspective you have shared to us Africans and the rest of the world. The one initiative that I saw was the A – Z to African Dance which was great at showcasing how diverse the continent is. I hope as Africa we all share your views https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeVIBrJfm-o

Media Diversified

by Atane Ofiaja

Earlier this year, an African magazine reached out to me for some input on a forthcoming article about African creatives (writers, artists, photographers, clothing designers, poets). The editor asked me a few questions regarding what Africans should do to change the perception of Africa to outsiders and what Africans have to offer. Basically, how should Africans promote Africa as having rich cultures, and how do we as Africans show that Africa is not just a continent of poverty in order to change the perceptions of outsiders?

Mindsets like this are fairly common and I find it disappointing. I know they mean well, but this is the wrong mindset to have in my opinion. Here’s why:

1. Africans shouldn’t bother themselves with trying to change the perceptions of outsiders. It isn’t our job. Should erasing the ignorant opinions of non-Africans be an African’s burden? We’re expected to be…

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Hashtag Trends – #ZaynAppreciationDay

So worldwide people are celebrating #ZaynAppreciationDay… not sure who exactly appointed the day of appreciation of this young man from One Direction. Many have tweeted and shared their love for this young celebrity.

Some ultra loving fans have made videos about why they love him… case in point

With all 6 views, 2 from me and hopefully 2 from Zayn (because he’d love it). It is a great ode to Zayn

with 51,279 tweets (as of 19/07/2014 – 12:15) a huge trend with @arianna44_ as being influential in helping Zayn Day a hit. She deserves to be recognised because “A dream is only a dream until you decide to make it real. @ZaynMalik is the Bae!” (Arianna44_).

Some tweets from this trend

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My favourite from @zayn_daily “because he can play the triangle”