Jayme Doll is a reporter with Global TV in Calgary. In the winter of 2013, she served as an expert trainer with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) in Sierra Leone as part of the Shaw Africa Project.
There is something mesmerizing about Africa – once you’ve been there, you yearn to go back. It’s an instant urge to twist your heels as soon as your feet return to home ground.
It has almost become an obsession for me. It tiptoes into my dreams – the people, the places, the red harmattan winds. But mostly it is the stories and the resilience of the people bravely telling them that keeps me constantly scouring the net for deals on flights.
As a journalist, the issues to cover are as vast as the Sahara itself. But more important is the need to lift the veil and shatter the silence surrounding human rights abuses – abuses that are all too often kept hidden or ignored.
When the opportunity surfaced to return to Africa with Journalist for Humans Rights and Global – I jumped at the chance. I will spend a month working side by side with journalists in Sierra Leone reporting on human rights issues, challenging and encouraging the people there to keep the government true to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It’s a document that only now is starting to carry some weight, ten years after a bloody civil war left the country one of the poorest in the world.
JHR’s ultimate goal has always been to make everyone aware of their rights – rights that are as readily available to us Canadians as the air we breathe but are in their infancy stages in countries like Sierra Leone. Journalists not only have the power to provide a platform for victims and survivors, but have a responsibility to raise awareness while keeping the government accountable – a key to any successful democracy.
I discovered a real desire among my Ghanaian colleagues when I worked on a similar project there five years ago. They are keen to help influence change and mold better tomorrows. I only hope I can give as much to the Sierra Leoneans as I know they will give to me.
Make no mistake – the process is laden with challenges, but it is a journey I look forward to returning to now and if I am so lucky throughout the remainder of my career, one story at a time.
This post was originally written on February 11, 2013. You can also view it via Global News.