Welcome to the HCR team!

Stephanie Mooney and Johnny Fisher have joined the HCR team in UK. We are fortunate to have these two highly qualified and passionate people on board! Stay posted for updates of projects they will be working on.

Stephanie Mooney

Stephanie has been working with communities and community development for 18 years, with extensive experience of supporting health and other networks and projects across Tanzania and other parts of Africa. She has worked in partnership with a number of local charities, local government and other key stakeholders to develop and improve services for the community, helping them respond effectively to local need. 

Stephanie has an MA in Diplomacy, Law and Global Change, is a qualified neighbourhood mediator and holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution. She has worked in local government as a senior monitoring and grants officer, and been responsible for the leading partnership teams with two other organisations.  

She is married to Bernie who works for the National Health Service and they have a delightful two-year old daughter.

Johnny Fisher

Johnny hails from Scotland and is married to Kristine and they have two children.  For the last four years Johnny has been working for another media organisation facilitating audience engagement and project strategy workshops in India, Bangladesh, Central Asia and the Middle East.   As an electronic engineer Johnny worked as and Systems Engineer and Hardware Engineer for major commercial companies, before becoming a support worker for homeless people in Edinburgh.  He later moved to Austria to work as a church and community leader supporting migrant workers and refugees.  

 Johnny, Stephanie and Jon

Johnny, Stephanie and Jon

A ‘New Dawn’ for Volleyball in Pakistan

By Hazeen Latif

When it comes to community empowerment, service providers often look at what resources and strengths THEY have and what THEY can do to meet community needs.  But it is too easy to overlook what the community already has, to meet its own needs, even among poor and marginalised communities.  As a core value of HCR, whenever we work with communities we always begin by listening to them and helping them to listen to each other, exploring what assets and strengths they already have, before we begin to explore what things need to be improved (see blog “It’s a ting thing”).

In our work among village communities in Pakistan’s KPK province, for example, it would have been far too easy to focus on the desperation felt by many young people, which has often resulted in frustration, substance abuse and even gang violence.  But as we began our listening activities, we heard stories of youngsters who really wanted to do something meaningful with their lives, but didn’t know how.  We also  found tremendous energy, talent and enthusiasm for sports as well as plenty of open ground to organize sporting activities such as cricket competitions.  

With HCR’s help, the young people recently came together to register a community-based organization calling themselves, “New Dawn Community Services Group” and one of their first activities has been to set up a volleyball court on some unused open ground. 

 A “New Dawn” for volleyball in a village in KPK Province, Pakistan

A “New Dawn” for volleyball in a village in KPK Province, Pakistan

“New Dawn” Volleyball has now become an important feature of village life for both young and old alike as some gather to play and others to watch.  As one father told his son as he came in starving, after a long game of volleyball: “It is a miracle that you are home early today”. 

Among other community support activities, one of New Dawn’s next goals is to bring neighbouring communities together to play a cricket tournament, something we first tried successfully in 2015. 

Besides taking young people off the streets and giving them healthy activity to do, sport really does bring people together, but best of all, it’s completely run by the community and for the community. And it all started with a simple act of listening!

Village Gets a New Voice

By Jon Hargreaves

It’s hard to find many places on the planet today that don’t have access to some form of media.  However in remote parts of India’s Maharashtra state, many indigenous tribal or Adivasi communities don’t have access to radio, television or even mobile ‘phones.  Many can’t read.

It’s for that reason that HCR, in partnership with Seva Social Welfare Foundation, has begun a project to distribute “speaker boxes” with content that will transform lives.  With local-dialect dramas, music and audio programmes that educate, inform and entertain, the ‘Adivasi Voices Project’ is an innovative way to help communities that are very poor and isolated from mainstream Indian society. Many are deprived of the basic facilities of life such as clean water, food, sanitation and healthcare.   

 Seva team Members distribute speaker boxes to remote Adivasi villagers in Maharastra, India  (Photo used with permission)

Seva team Members distribute speaker boxes to remote Adivasi villagers in Maharastra, India
(Photo used with permission)

“This project will help lift our community as we have suffered for too long from the effects of ignorance and poor education,” said the head of the village, Mr Ramdas Warde.  Another community member who didn’t want to be named, spoke of how they felt forgotten by the government, who had promised a lot during election-time, but the promises had never materialised.

A major research project conducted in partnership between Seva and HCR in July 2018, revealed that the low level of health and well-being was due largely to poor water, sanitation and hygiene as well as harmful superstitious practices.  One lady showed scars on her stomach from where she had been burned by a witchdoctor who said the burning would drive out the evil spirits.  One of the medical doctors spoke of how many girls in the region were married off soon after their first periods so that when the first children came along both the mother and child were malnourished.

Seva’s Chief Executive, Ms. Shilpa Shinde, said that changing attitudes and mindsets would take a long time, but that the powerful combination of information and education via the speaker boxes, as well as on the ground interventions such as health camps and sanitation programmes, would begin to change things. She added: “We are committed to seeing the lives and livelihoods of Adivasi communities across the state transformed and we believe this powerful combination of media working with service providers will bring hope to the poorest and most marginalised in our country”.

For more information or to partner with us to reach more tribal communities in India, please contact hcruk@h-c-r.org

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS IN AFRICA

By Jon Hargreaves

There is an old proverb that says, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”   At HCR we’ve come to realise that if we really want to help alleviate poverty, we need to go even further - we need to teach people to start “fishing businesses”, so they can feed themselves, their families and their communities, for all time.

To that end, in partnership with Aid For Trade and supported by the Andrews Charitable Trust, we recently launched the YES (Young Entrepreneurs’ Startup) project, in an area of eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, where poverty is widespread.  Using the newly established radio station, Amani FM, the project involves an innovative mix of creative radio programmes, live ‘phone-in discussions, social media interaction and workshops to encourage local people, irrespective of their education, to develop their business ideas and then put them into action.  By the end of the workshops, budding entrepreneurs will be able to develop business plans, the best of which will be eligible for low-interest loans.  As the resulting businesses get going, the radio station will closely follow the development of these enterprises, encouraging new would-be entrepreneurs to have a go.

  Hancy Funana presents "Tuanze Biashara" (we start a business) on Amani FM in Tana River, eastern Kenya

Hancy Funana presents "Tuanze Biashara" (we start a business) on Amani FM in Tana River, eastern Kenya

“We are now up to programme seven on the radio, and beginning to help workshop participants develop their business plans,” says project leader, Philip Amara, adding that already many great business ideas are being generated.   Philip says the radio programmes Tuanze Biashara’, which is Swahili for “We Start a Business”, have been well-received by the community and generated a very lively response across the region.  There is also a very active WhatsApp group with around 45 participants who share ideas, encourage each other and respond to the things they are learning.   “Just today,” says Philip, “a group has announced their plans to set up a modern butchery in the town of Garsen, which is a real need in the area.”  In this region of high unemployment, Philip is confident that the project will stimulate new wealth in the area and begin to break the mindset of poverty and dependency on aid.

  Philip Amara (right) interacts with participants during a workshop to train budding entrepreneurs in Tana River County

Philip Amara (right) interacts with participants during a workshop to train budding entrepreneurs in Tana River County

Although extreme global poverty has been cut by more than half since 1990, sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind with over 40% of people still living in absolute poverty.   Our dream is to extend the YES project to other parts of Kenya and the Swahili-speaking world, to make a sustainable contribution to ending poverty among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, enabling people to enjoy the fullness of life for which they were created.

Wanggamanha (speaking) Wajarri

By Celeste Larkins

Last week we were invited by the Bunidyarra Irra Wangga Language Program to a language workshop in Mullewa (about an hour’s drive east of our base in Geraldton), held at the Mullewa Aboriginal Arts Centre. The language program aims to preserve, revitalise and maintain Aboriginal language and culture. It was a great opportunity to observe the workshop and hear from local Mullewa people, some of which could speak Wajarri (the local language), and others who had not learnt it because of past government policies.

During the workshop, we had the privilege of trying bimba, a traditional bush food, also known as ‘bush lolly’, which you get from going out bush. 

 Celeste enjoying some bimba.

Celeste enjoying some bimba.

To support the work of the Irra Wangga Language Centre, we help the community record their language for broadcast on the local Aboriginal community radio station, Radio MAMA, which we did in Mullewa.

We drove three hours onto Mount Magnet which is Badimaya country (a different language group). There we went to the District High School which started a language program this year in the school teaching both Wajarri and Badimaya. Due to family connections, many students are Yamaji or have Yamaji links (who speak Wajarri), as well as Badimaya. We met teacher Mrs Roslyn Little, who had a kindy (4-year-olds) and Pre-primary (5-year-olds) class while we visited. The students loved their language class, and with the help of their teacher, were able to record some great radio messages using Wajarri words. We aim to go back next school term to do more recordings in Badimaya. Have a listen to the radio messages the students recorded below.