About David Sasaki

Director of Outreach, Global Voices http://globalvoicesonline.org

Newsletter: 7/28 – 8/1

Dear All,

Welcome to August! We are already well into the second half of the year and with each passing month the bloggers from the Rising Voices projects are getting more creative and more comfortable with how they express themselves.

At this year's Global Voices Summit held in Budapest many attendees asked the Rising Voices participants how they could help support their projects. One of the best way to encourage new bloggers to keep sharing stories about their lives and communities is to simply leave comments on the posts they write. And to link to their stories on your own blogs! This week we will highlight six different posts from new bloggers around the world that were either written in or translated into English. They give us insight into communities that we would otherwise know very little or nothing about.

Monsieur Stephane says hello from Madagascar

Let's start with a quick 30 second video posted on Flickr by Stephane of the Foko Madagascar project. Stephane is one of the main coordinators of Foko Madagascar and travels all around the island to teach as many Malagasy people how to blog as possible. As you can see with just a quick glance of their project blog, his dedicated work has been well worth it.

Foko bloggers on Malagasy culture and traditions

Staying in Madagascar, here are four brief translations of how cultural traditions are both surviving and changing as globalization takes hold in Madagascar. Here you will learn why you might see people walking down a street carrying sugarcanes, banana leaves, and a Malagasy flag. Or why in August, September and October you might see families carrying around a body wrapped in silk sheets and a brass hand. If you have any questions about the traditions, like I did, feel free to ask in the comments section and the Foko bloggers will be glad to answer your questions. If you are interested in learning more about Malagasy culture and ritual, I highly encourage you to follow the blogs of Hkambora and Rondro. Joan gives us some more context about their posts.

Freezing Cold

Carolina comes from the Santo Domingo group of bloggers trained by the HiperBarrio group in Medellín, Colombia. Today when you travel to Medellín, everyone will tell you that you should take the metrocable, a suspended gondola-like system of public transportation, up to the hillside community of Santo Domingo. But just ten years ago their advice would have been to stay away from Santo Domingo at all costs. It was one of the most dangerous communities in Colombia. Carolina's bilingual blog reminds us that Santo Domingo is more than just its violent legacy. A recent post describes how the strange forces of distance and proximity affect our friendships. Sometimes the closeness we feel toward friends when we communicate online doesn't match how we interact offline.

In The Sun Island, Titicaca Lake

Cristina Quisbert continues to frequently update both her Spanish-language and English-language blogs. Last week, as a way of celebrating her birthday, she made a last-minute trip to the Isla del Sol, Sun Island, in Lake Titicaca in northern Bolivia. Her description of her trip to the island, and how she met a Swiss girl named Nicole with whom she enjoyed the white sand beach of Challapampa, is absolutely beautiful.

My Teachers of “Nari Jibon” Project

In our posts about the Nari Jibon project, which teaches new skills to women in Dhaka, Bangladesh, we tend to focus on the students and their blogs. Last Friday one of those students, Jannat Fardoush, took the time to write a post in English on her blog about four of her teachers at Nari Jibon, complete with pictures. To learn more about the Nari Jibon project and some of the successes they have achieved, I highly recommend an amazing post by Golam Rabbany Sujon which introduces us to six young Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who were trained at the Nari Jibon center.


That's it for this week's newsletter. Please don't forget to leave comments on as many posts as you can and to link to the Rising Voices bloggers on your own blogs and websites. For more photos, videos, and links about citizen media outreach, including an update from Rezwan about the “Bloggers Since Infants” project in Uruguay, head to the Rising Voices website.

Newsletter: 7/11 – 7/18

My apologies for the absence of last week's newsletter. I have been busy trying to update our library of new media guides so that we will have multilingual resources on how to blog, podcast, and publish video to the internet.

But first it is important to note that Rising Voices isn't the only source of tutorials and guides about citizen media. This week let's take a look at another resource that can help you, your organization, and your friends take advantage of new communication tools.

MediaSnackers’ Pacific Youth Curriculum

MediaSnackers is a for-profit group which trains all sorts of companies and media organizations how to use social media tools. Earlier this year they also took on a pro-bono project with Pacific Youth to train youth leaders in Tonga and Papua New Guinea how to use online social media.

Rather than flying out the Pacific to train the youth leaders in person, the MediaSnackers trainers used YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, and online chats to cover a different topic each week. Just recently, they have released all of those videos and presentations on their website under a Creative Commons license, which means you are free to use them in your workshops and share them with friends and colleagues.

I especially recommend having a listen to week two's lesson on “Digital Stories“, which explains how to use SlideShare and Animoto, and week four, which looks at video blogging, or “vodcasting”.

Finally, it is worth taking a look at the blogs of the youth leaders who attended the online course. You can find links to all their blogs on the right-hand side of the Pacific Youth Project Page. Unfortunately, most of them haven't been updated recently, but it's clear that they gained the necessary skills. How to keep new bloggers engaged is another challenge entirely.

Nari Jibon: The joy of having their own blog

One of the best ways we've found to encourage new bloggers to keep writing and experimenting more in social media is by leaving comments on their posts. Please show your support by clicking through the links and adding your encouragement. For the past year the young women in Dhaka, Bangladesh who have been trained how to blog at the Nari Jibon center have all been contributing to the same group blog. This past week, however, many participants decided to open their own individual blogs as a way of expressing their own identities. Each blog has its own unique look and feel. To get to know them all better, make sure not to miss Rezwan's introductory post.

Akory Tamatave ! Hello Tamatave !

Speaking of new bloggers, the FOKO Blog Club in Madagascar continues to expand with new workshops and new participants in Tamatave. For those of us who don't speak Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar, it's a relief to know that the new bloggers are all university students who belong to the Barikadimy’s United English Club, where they get together to practice English. You can see their pictures, read their posts, and even hear the voice of their president, Patrick, here. Don't forget to show your support with comments!

Voces Bolivianas Begins in Trinidad

FOKO isn't the only Rising Voices project to expand. Voces Bolivianas has also started a new series of workshops for new participants. You can see a photograph of the first workshop and get to know more about Trinidad, Bolivia on their project blog.


There are many more stories, photographs, videos, and links to news about citizen media outreach on the front page of Rising Voices.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. And don't forget to spend a few minutes this weekend getting to know a new Rising Voices blogger.

  • Newsletter: 6/30 – 7/4

    Dear All,

    June was our busiest month ever at Rising Voices. We celebrated our first year of existence with a brief trailer video which looks back at the first ten citizen media outreach projects. The video has been viewed over 600 times on dotSUB alone and over 100 times on other blogs around the world. It is available with sub-titles in 17 languages. Please help us spread awareness about Rising Voices by embedding it in your blog.


    June was also a month for Rising Voices projects to show off all they have accomplished over the past year at various conferences. It started in Bogotá, Colombia where over 15 of the young participants from the HiperBarrio project in La Loma, Medellín were invited to Campus Party, one of the most important technology-related gatherings in the Spanish-speaking world. The municipality of Medellín, realizing the many achievements made by the young bloggers, agreed to finance all of the transportation costs from Medellín to Bogotá and back. The HiperBarrio bloggers were minor celebrities at the week-long conference where they were frequently approached by journalists like Aitor Riveiro from El País.

    Just a week later, representatives from FOKO Madagascar, Voces Bolivianas, Neighborhood Diaries, REPACTED Kenya, and HiperBarrio gave presentations about their work at the 2008 Global Voices Summit. Rezwan has written an excellent post summarizing their experience and presentations on the Rising Voices website.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, June was a month for looking forward, with the announcement of our six newest health-related outreach projects. Each of the six projects are slightly different than anything we funded during the previous year, which presents both new challenges and new opportunities. Over the next month we will focus heavily on the logistics to get each of the six projects into the Rising Voices website and community.

    Speaking of community, this mailing list has grown from around 80 initial subscribers to over 400 in the space of just one year – a tremendous show of enthusiasm to help include new voices in this new global conversation. This week it is worth pointing out one particular member of our community, Nasim Fekrat from Afghanistan who was featured last week in Slate.com for his relentless dedication to train more and more Afghan citizens how to make themselves heard using blogs. I encourage you all to read the article.

    Thank you all for your patience and endless support, especially over the past month. We will soon add a new page to the Rising Voices website which will describe ways in which you can help support each of the Rising Voices outreach projects. For now, please visit the website, get to know each of the projects better, and leave comments of support on the participants’ blogs.

    All the best,


    Newsletter: 6/2 – 6/6

    Every two weeks we feature four to five posts by Rising Voices participants as a way of showcasing some of the finest content from new voices that are typically ignored by both traditional and new media.

    In order to make new voices heard, however, we must be willing to hear them. Please take twenty minutes out of your day to read their posts, and to offer comments of encouragement.

    Thanks to Hamid Tehrani from Iran, Romina Oliverio from Argentina/Canada, and Adelynne Ong from Malaysia for leaving comments on the featured posts from two weeks ago. I hope that this time many more people will take the time to leave comments.

    As long as we are on TV

    The impressive work by the HiperBarrio group of young bloggers in La Loma, Colombia continues to attract media attention from all over the country. Last week it was the national television program “Camino al Barrio” that visited La Loma in order to feature the community, its history, and the transformation taking place as La Loma puts its violent past behind it. But the visit by the television crew revealed that media attention and obsessive documentation can also distract us from helping out our neighbors when they need us the most. Milthon, a performance artist and talented poet, takes his fellow bloggers to task for carrying more about being on camera than helping their neighbors in a severe time of need.

    Three poems translated from Bangla

    The young Bangladeshi women at the Nari Jibon center in Dhaka continue to reveal their poetic prowess. This week Rafiq has translated three short poems, originally published in Bangla from Hazera Akter Sherin Sheela, Jesmin Ara Amzad, and Afiya Akter. The themes of friendship and expectations are, of course, universal.

    Lost and The River

    In Madagascar, members of the Foko Blog Club have also been publishing their poetry recently. Rodro's poem, The River, takes us from Madagascar's ancient mountains down through the modern suburbs and out into the seemingly endless sea. Cylnice's Lost describes the complex feelings of anger, frustration, and forgiveness which overcome us after we are left by a former lover.

    Love your children

    Just like parents can frustrate their children to no end, the opposite is also often true. But it is important to step back and think about what matters most in our lives. For children, it is often their parents. And for parents, of course, their children. Nancy Condori, a new blogger from El Alto, Bolivia, reminds us just how precious – and fleeting – life can be.

    Playing with the paramilitarists

    “Putting its violent past to rest” also means being comfortable to share the childhood stories which were so commonplace for members of HiperBarrio‘s La Loma group, but which seem surreal to most of us. Dneiber Xady recalls a day when paramilitary soldiers passed the school field where he was playing football with friends and asked if they could play with them. Hours later, along with his friends, Dneiber was running through a storm of bullets to the safety of his home and family. “Mom, I love you- was the first thing I said – Lets hide because they are just in front of our house…”

    Newsletter: 5/12 – 5/16

    Dear All,

    Please don't forget, proposals for the current round of micro-grants are due on June 1. If you submit your application earlier rather than just a few days before the deadline, we will be able to spend more time reading it and researching your ideas.

    In this week's newsletter I am going to highlight a few citizen media projects related to public health, both grassroots and institutional.

    • Physicians for Human Rights is using social networking platforms like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube to improve their advocacy efforts around campaigns related to AIDS, torture survival, and youth health. They also offer a wide assortment of RSS feeds and have launched a student blog to encourage university students to become more involved in issues related to global health and human rights. (They are also currently hiring a web producer to strengthen their online advocacy efforts.)
    • The Nata Village Blog is a completely grassroots effort in rural Botswana started by a traveling blogger, a peace corps volunteer, and Martha Ramaditse and Selomo Tiro, two Nata residents. They were soon picked up by Global Voices, the World Bank, Jason Kottke, and eventually won the Peace Corps ICT contest. By creating a strong web presence they have been able to attract an incredible amount of donations from all over the world and the attention of local and international politicians.
    • Blog.AIDS.gov is an effort by the US government to highlight projects and opportunities present in new media to fight against HIV/AIDS. It highlights, for example, video games about HIV prevention, the importance of accessibility when it comes to web pages about HIV/AIDS, and health-focused social networking sites.
    • The International Carnival of Pozitivities is another grassroots project, organized by Ron Hudson who is HIV-positive and based in the North Carolina. Each month a different blogger picks a theme and links to featured posts about that theme by fellow HIV-positive bloggers. The latest two round-ups have are particularly international. They include posts about topics like Diet For Healthy Teeth And Gums, Peace Corps To Pozzers: Get Out, and what it's like to be HIV-positive in Peru.
    • CRIB (Chasing rainbows is our business), was designed by a group of young people living with HIV and AIDS in London. It includes stories and testimonials, online chat (so far, seldom used), and videos. Its purpose is to create an online space for HIV-positive young people who are not able to join physical support groups.
    • Aftercare is a cell phone application and communication platform for therapeutic counsellors to more efficiently liaise with HIV+ patients by collecting data from the patient about symptoms and drug adherence.
    • Lots of other interesting applications of cell phones within a public health and human rights-related context are available on MobileActive here and here.

    As you can see, there are already lots of innovative ideas about how online media can be used to advocate for better health and empower those who live with diseases that often isolate them from their societies. But, so far, few of them come from the developing world. Our hope is that on June 28 we will announce five more health-related projects that are even more impressive and innovative than those listed above.

    Have a great weekend everyone!


    Newsletter: 5/5 – 5/9

    This week's newsletter is a return to our traditional format with links to lots of great content, opportunities, and resources.

    Pangea Day 2008

    Tomorrow is Pangea Day, a global film event, with screenings all around the world. I will be attending the local event here in Buenos Aires and I know that Rising Voices participants will also be attending in Colombia, Bangladesh, and elsewhere. You can learn more about Pangea Day and the various events that will be commemorating it on Global Voices.

    Now Hiring

    Rising Voices is seeking to hire a Public Health Editor. He of she will be responsible for writing weekly articles which cover the latest discussions and topics related to public health and human rights in the developing world from citizen media like blogs, podcasts, and video-blogs. Applications are due by Saturday, May 24!

    Become a Fan of Rising Voices on Facebook!

    Many of you have joined our Rising Voices group on Facebook. We will soon be closing down the group and instead asking everyone to become a fan of the Rising Voices page, which will be much more informative and interactive. Please become a fan today.

    Voces Bolivianas: The day Bolivia was blogging

    The Bolivian Voices day on April 19, 2008 was a nationwide effort to train bloggers and bring more people into the global conversation. Approximately 100 Bolivians from ‘underrepresented’ groups took part in a day long workshop in seven cities of Bolivia.

    FOKO: big achievements for a young project

    Within six months FOKO Blog Club’s citizen media outreach project successfully completed workshops in three provinces of Madagaskar and brought more than 30 Malagasy youths into blogging about social issues, producing video reports for competitions and posting photographs.


    That's all for this week. Don't forget to keep you eye on the Rising Voices website for updates from all 10 Rising Voices projects, new videos, photos, and links to interesting resources, grants, and awards.