Arete’s Stories: Working in hostile environments with photographer Karel Prinsloo & hostile…

Arete’s Stories: Working in hostile environments with photographer Karel Prinsloo & hostile environments trainer Lizzy Stileman MBE

Anything can be news but not everything is newsworthy. Journalism is a process in which a reporter uses verification and storytelling to make a subject newsworthy.

Creating a good story means finding and verifying important or interesting information and then presenting it in a way that engages the audience. Good stories are part of what makes journalism unique. For a journalist to truly achieve this, they need to be on the ground, ‘in the thick of it’, capturing the story first-hand.

The stories that too often go untold are taking place in dangerous and challenging environments, warzones, pandemics, dictatorships. It takes brave and trained individuals to capture these stories safely and transparently.

In the latest edition of Arete’s Stories, we talk to Arete photojournalist Karel Prinsloo about his personal experiences of working in dangerous environments and Lizzy Stileman, MBE ,about the role of hostile environment awareness training.

Karel Prinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning photographer. He has covered conflicts and humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East and has been based in Nairobi for nearly a decade as the Associated Press’ Chief photographer for East Africa.

He also worked at the Associated Press’ base in London as a picture editor for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Currently, he is a freelance photographer working for humanitarian organisations like UNICEF, WFP, GAVI, IFAW as well as for major international news media.

Karel has won numerous awards, including the South African Photographer Of The Year, second prize in the World Press Photo Awards in 2000 for his coverage of the devastating Mozambique floods and runner up in the CNN African Journalist of the year.

Karel has been published in all the world’s major publications, including the New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek and Paris Match.

Your reputation precedes you, Karel! Thanks for talking with me today. Can you start by telling us a little about some of the challenging environments you have worked in over the years?

“Sure, so I started when I was young, with my first experience of working in a hostile or challenging environment coming in South Africa just after the end of apartheid. I was doing a lot of work in the townships, and there was a lot of unrest and lawlessness out there during the transition of power in the country in 1994.

Since then, I have covered two wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, been embedded with the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan, captured the ongoing conflict in Israel, Gaza, and Palestine, violent unrest in Uganda, the farm invasions in Zimbabwe, and unrest in Somalia where, tragically, one of my colleagues from the BBC died.

From the Middle East to Europe, to Africa, you could say I have covered a fair amount of dangerous and hostile situations over the years; thankfully though, I work in relatively safer climates now….”

I can only imagine some of what you see and experience when working in these places. Is there any way to prepare yourself for this?

“Well, when working with any news agency, they will send you on hostile environment awareness training (HEAT) — I’ve been on a few.

Generally, you get training in first aid, a bit of situational awareness, how to recognise danger, how to read a crowd, that sort of thing. For me personally, I had been working in the field a long-time before these training courses became mandatory, so a lot of it was common-sense to me — but I can see how it can be helpful for somebody who has never been in this situation.

The biggest takeaway for me was the first aid training — and, unfortunately, I have had to use these skills since.

During the Kenyan presidential elections, we stumbled across a lot of people who had been quite seriously hurt. I believe the reason we are taught these skills is to help people, so regardless of whether it was my team or me, or a complete stranger, I will help.

There are those who might say to preserve journalistic integrity, you shouldn’t interfere, but I don’t believe in this observer ideology. I believe if you are in a situation to help someone, then you should, so long as it doesn’t endanger your life or that of your team. And that is what we did. We tried to help as many people as we could”.

Can you give us an insight into how you feel when working in these places?

“I started out as a photojournalist to show injustice in my own country, Namibia and my aim is always to try and shine a light on the injustices of the world, and I‘ve been doing that with my camera now for well over 30 years.

When I initially started out working in potentially hostile places, I was young, and I wasn’t particularly phased by much of what I saw. However, I find as you get older, you get more sensitive to working in these environments.

I have a family now, and when you see the atrocities that are being committed against, particularly, women and children. You can’t help but think, what if that was my wife or my daughter. This is hard to carry when it is so important to stay focused and aware of your surroundings.

As a result, in recent years, I have pivoted to work in the humanitarian sector rather than for the media. I am still required to work in ‘hostile environments, but the stories’ subject is very different.

I feel whether you are seeking to unearth and capture injustice or documenting the amazing work many of these NGOs are doing, you have to believe in it. This is key. I still believe in this work, and I wouldn’t do it otherwise. I genuinely believe we make a difference, and to make a difference in one person’s life is amazing, but to make a difference in many people’s lives is incredible; this feeling is something special”.

Have there ever been moments where you have feared for your life while capturing these stories?

“Yeah many times. I can vividly remember the time when I was in Goma in the DRC. The rebels were advancing into Goma. I was standing with my colleagues, a photographer and a videographer, in front of the UN building on the road. All of a sudden a number of armed Congolese Government soldiers abducted us to flee from the advancing rebels, forcing us into our own vehicle.

We tried to reason with them, but the more we spoke, the angrier they got. They were speaking Swahili, which one of my colleagues understood. I remember looking over at him, and he was as white as a ghost.

All of a sudden, they came around a corner, stopped the car, got out, and ran.

It turns out they ran as there was a rebel checkpoint ahead. After speaking with my colleague, I found out that they were talking about how they intended to rape our female colleague and then kill us all. We got very lucky this day.

Unbelievably, this wasn’t the worst experience of my career. I was in the DRC again in 2001, this time for the funeral of the assassinated President, Laurent-Desire Kabila. I was amongst many people, and I could sense the mood was changing.

I was struck with a rock, and it was at this moment I realised that the sentiment of anger and outrage of this large group of people was being directed at me. There was a belief that foreigners had killed their President, and I became a target. Rocks started flying in my direction.

Nothing scares me more in this world than an angry mob. I’ve seen what a mob can do; I’ve been on the receiving end.

This happened to me prior to any of these training courses that are commonplace nowadays, and it was the only education on reading a crowd that I ever needed. Since then, I have been far more trusting of my gut instinct.

You don’t know how you will react when someone shoots at you until someone shoots at you! You can either continue working or not, and you won’t know this as a photojournalist until you have worked in a hostile environment and experienced it”.

It seems these experiences happened relatively early in your career, and it is remarkable that you could carry on after this. How were you able to continue? What makes all this worth it?

“For me, it is knowing that my work actually helps people. It is seeing it help. When I worked for the media, sometimes your work can lead to immediate and life-changing responses for people. After all, you are capturing first-hand accounts from places, particularly back then, that nobody else would be documenting.

One story that sticks in my mind was from 2003 when we were cut off from civilisation in a town called Bunia in the DRC. Atrocities were happening all around us, we were able to get some of these stories out to the media, and two weeks later, the French military landed, and it stopped overnight. There is huge satisfaction in knowing you made a difference by getting these stories out.

Today, I get to better peoples lives with my work in the NGO sector and my photography with Arete — we have helped raise millions of dollars for various organisations that have been used to make a better life for so many. That is the satisfaction I get now”.

Lizzy Stileman MBE

Lizzy is the Director of EJS Disaster Management and veteran of the British Army, serving for 20 years. Since then, Lizzy has gone on to complete a Masters in Disaster Management, volunteers for British NGO RE:ACT, where she has completed eight international deployments and remains an active member of the British Army Reservists.

Lizzy, can you tell us a little about the role of HEAT in preparing for work in hostile environments?

“The purpose of HEAT or hostile environment awareness training is two-fold really. The first aspect is security, and the second is remote first aid. As facilitators, it is our job to give people the best opportunity to not get in a position where they are under threat. The course is there as a thought-provoking tool.

We aim to prepare people of all walks of life, providing them with a toolkit that enables them to handle both the mental and physical stress of hostile environments. It is understanding how to read a situation and, if necessary, how to get away with your team safely.

Many of the scenarios explored in HEAT are things the vast majority of us would likely never encounter, such as kidnappings, carjacking, being caught up in a riot, illegal checkpoints or an active shooter.

It is more than just a set of instructions on what to do if that were to happen. It is about self-care, interpersonal skills, how to negotiate and help your team members if they are struggling. Your mind is your most powerful tool in a hostile environment, and it is essential that it is working efficiently.

The first aid aspect is focussed on what we call remote first aid, how to help someone when you are in the middle of nowhere, with very limited supplies. How to apply a tourniquet, how to do CPR, how to treat a gunshot wound. With no communications, how do you create a temporary stretcher, and how do you stay safe while doing it? In these scenarios, there is no 999, no ambulances.

Visiting hostile environments, even for a short period of time, is a dangerous but essential aspect for many sectors, such as those that work with NGOs and the Press; and HEAT has become a key element of preparing for this travel”.

We source and manage local experts in photography, video, digital and written content from around the world to help you tell stories that make a difference, working with you in the office or the field.

Contact us to find out how we can help you make an impact through exceptional storytelling and targeted communications strategies


Arete’s Stories: Working in hostile environments with photographer Karel Prinsloo & hostile… was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Arete’s Stories: Refugees add far more to society than is often reported, by Jonathan Clayton

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/Unicef Somalia/ Arete. Refugee Ideeja at a support group held by UNICEF near her home in an IDP camp on the beach in Puntland, Somalia. ideeja traveled to Marere to be smuggled out by boat to Yemen. On her first night before departure at the port a woman was raped in their boat by a drunk smuggler. She got scared and left and walked all the way back to Bossaso. As the bitter conflict in Yemen grinds on and the humanitarian situation there continues to deteriorate, conditions facing the almost 280,000 refugees in-country are worsening and their needs and vulnerabilities are growing by the day.

Every 60 seconds, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. Whether refugees or asylum seekers, each and every one of these brave people are simply seeking safety and security.

The narrative often delivered by the mainstream media around refugees, strips them of their previous successes and their ambitions for the future. Portraying them as helpless; whilst, conversely, depicting the country that offers them a home as a charitable saviour.

In this short blog, Arete journalist and celebrated correspondent Jonathan Clayton shares a selection of his experiences gained from documenting refugee stories for over 30 years. Stories of the amazing people he has met and how, contrary to popular depiction, refugees very often enrich and add value to the countries and cultures they become a part of.

Jonathan Clayton is the former East Africa Bureau Chief of Reuters news agency and from 2002–14 was The Times Africa correspondent. He also covered the first-ever refugee Olympic team at the 2016 Rio games for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

“I first met *Halima in the early 1990s in the Juba Valley, Somalia — one of the many casualties of the brutal inter-clan warfare which was then tearing the country apart.

A few years later, I met her again in a refugee camp in Kenya. She was still not 30, but in her short life had suffered more pain and hardship than most people can ever possibly imagine.

Dreadful things had happened to her. However, she never lost hope. She was always cheerful and bubbling with energy.

Photo: Kate Holt/ Arete. A mother walks with her children through a dust storm to their newly erected tent in the new arrivals area of Dagehaley camp, one of three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp in Dadaab, northeastern Kenya.

Over a sweet tea, we quickly caught up. Again she surprised me. She excitedly told me she was off to Dallas, Texas, in a few months along with her four children. She had never slept on a bed, never used a flush toilet, nor a fridge, nor a washing machine. Pointing at the sky, she told me her greatest fear was flying. Instead, it turned out to be the airport elevator.

A year later, we met in Dallas — a surreal experience. She was working full-time as a cleaner at Wallmart and living in a very decent, if small, apartment — two bedrooms shared by the kids, her and her husband on a pull-out sofa bed. Juggling mobile phone calls from family and friends, she was the very image of a busy suburban American Mom.

The kids loved school. Her boys had excelled at basketball. Her daughter devoured her studies. All spoke near-perfect English already. Halima worked hard as ever. Life was not easy, but people were friendly — most of the time. But she was happy.

Crucially, she told me that for the first time in her life she felt SAFE. She had also discovered “law” and was becoming a powerful advocate of women’s rights. “You know here, you cannot hit a woman!”, she told me. “NO, NO, NO.” It was an amazing transformation from the terrified, beaten and battered, young woman I had first met in the badlands of the lower Shebelle river.

Halima’s embrace of her new life — so wildly different to anything she could have ever dreamed about — challenged my own view of refugees. Like many others, until then, I thought they needed near-constant help and support. In fact, the vast majority only need, and want, an opportunity free from persecution, violence and conflict.

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ WFP/ Arete. Somali refugees returning from Dadaab in Kenya, at a transit camp. The WFP is providing provision of unconditional food assistance to help those suffering from severe drought.

In more than 30 years of reporting for Reuters and The Times, much of it in Africa and the Balkans, I went on to meet and befriend many other refugees. Most shared one characteristic — determination. If ever they would be given a second chance, they would grasp it and make the most of it.

One of the greatest misconceptions of refugees is that they are a burden on society. The reality is mostly the complete opposite. Overwhelmingly, they enrich and better the societies which adopt them. Be it Albert Einstein or Steve Job’s father, a migrant from Syria, the roll call of history is undeniable. Can anyone imagine today without Apple, let alone the theory of relativity?

Photo: Kate Holt/ Opportunity International UK/ Arete. Kakule, a refugee from Beni in the DR Congo, accepts payment from a customer in his small shop which is next to his garden, where he grows food for his family in Nakivale Refugee Camp, Uganda. Nakivale is home to over 120,000 refugees from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo Burundi and Somalia.

More recently, I think of Yazidi women now running Middle East food deliveries in Antwerp, a tailor from Damascus stitching sails for wealthy yacht owners in Kiel, Germany, a Syrian architect now running a fashion business in Milan. Then there is Nakout, a Ugandan abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. She escaped after 14 years as a slave. She now lives in Finland, where she teaches English to other African refugees.

These are the faces behind the statistics. Their stories are powerful, their contributions to society immense. Unfortunately, the true picture is often obscured by right-wing and xenophobic narratives rooted in unfounded fear and propagated by fake news.

ARETE’s reporting of these issues offers a chance to redress that balance. Today, when figures show global displacement increasing for the 9th year in a row, this is more necessary than ever before.”

*Name changed for protection purposes

We source and manage local experts in photography, video, digital and written content from around the world to help you tell stories that make a difference, working with you in the office or the field.

Contact us to find out how we can help you make an impact through exceptional storytelling and targeted communications strategies


Preventing Famine is a Choice

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ WFP/ Arete

Famine and the risk of famine are increasing across the world. Climate change, conflict and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic have all worsened hunger and food insecurity for some of the most vulnerable communities across the globe.

Thirty-four million people around the world are currently experiencing extreme levels of hunger and malnutrition. Without immediate help, the slightest disruption to their food chain could mean the onset of famine.

At the G7 Summit this June, world leaders will focus on this humanitarian crisis with a Famine Prevention panel. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is calling on the global community to help raise awareness and encourage support for life-saving action in the lead up to this event.

Recently awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, WFP has received universal recognition for its efforts to combat hunger and for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in areas affected by war.

Arete have been working with the World Food Programme for over twelve years in countries all over the world. Our photographers and writers have seen first-hand how their programmes save lives, and in our latest blog, we are drawing attention, through photography, to WFP’s #FightFamine initiative, which aims to encourage support for life-saving interventions.

Over a million of the world’s hungriest and most vulnerable people live in just nine countries — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, South Sudan, and Afghanistan — as well as, Sudan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Nigeria. Without urgent action, famine could soon become a reality for at least two of these countries that are also dealing with internal conflicts: Yemen and South Sudan.

Here we showcase some of the World Food Programme’s extraordinary work:

Fight Hunger — Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Photographer: Fredrik Lerneryd
World Food Programme/ Arete

Despite being one of the largest countries in Africa and abundant with natural resources such as diamonds, gold, copper and cobalt, DRC remains one of the least developed countries in the African continent, ranking 175th of 189 countries on the 2020 Human Development Index.

DRC now has the largest hunger crisis in the world. Hunger and conflict fuel one another here, with armed groups and widespread civilian displacement prevailing in parts of the country for the past 25 years, all of which compound the deeply entrenched humanitarian challenges.

Arete photographer, Fredrik Lerneryd, visited a town on Lake Tanganyika to document the vital work WFP is doing to support those suffering from moderate acute malnutrition.

Evariste, who is suffering from malnutrition has his arm measured while sitting on the lap of his mother Furaha at a clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furaha lives in the province of Tanganyika with her four children and husband.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school Furaha worked for stopped paying her, and at the same time food prices went up. With only her husband’s salary, the family had to reduce the amount of food they ate. This caused Evariste to become malnourished, but he is receiving ready-to-use supplementary food for the treatment of malnutrition from a local clinic supported by WFP and is on the way to recovery.

WFP’s response in the Democratic Republic of Congo includes in-kind food and cash distributions for the most vulnerable, the treatment and prevention of malnutrition among children and women, and hot meals for school children.

Faida who can be seen sorting beans in Kasheke is a member of the COOPANG cooperative formed by 28 Farmers Organisations and supported by WFP.

A farmer in South Kivu, Furaha also benefited from a joint WFP-FAO resilience initiative in DRC and can be seen here arranging produce in her shop. After attending a literacy training programme supported by WFP, Furaha became the president of her local savings and loans association and has grown her shop into a successful business.

WFP Sudan

Photographer: Ed Ram
World Food Programme/ Arete

Across Sudan, 9.6 million people required humanitarian support in 2020. Of those, 6.2 million are food insecure, according to the Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan. High inflation has made matters worse, with people unable to afford basic food items. An average local food basket takes up at least 75 percent of monthly household income.

Sudan also faces persistently high levels of acute malnutrition, along with wasting, a low weight for a child’s height, and stunting, a low height for a child’s weight, all of which constitute a significant public health problem About 2.7 million children in Sudan suffer from wasting annually, with approximately 522,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Arete photographer, Ed Ram, was in Sudan to document the influx of thousands of refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia who are struggling to survive on what limited resources there are.

Ram documented the support given by WFP to tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees in the Um Rakuba settlement.

World Food Programme (WFP) distributes food to refugees coming from the Tigray region in Um Rakuba refugee camp in eastern Sudan.

WFP continues to support around 57,000 refugees in the four refugee camps, settlements, or reception centres in Sudan, who have fled violent conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia — by offering monthly food rations, providing food for hot meals for new arrivals, nutrition support, and logistical support to the humanitarian community. The United Nations refugee agency says about 63,000 people have fled Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region into neighbouring Sudan since November 2020.

Three children sit eating rice on the floor of a temporary shelter in Um Rakuba refugee camp in eastern Sudan.

WFP Nigeria

Photographer: Damilola Onafuwa
World Food Programme/ Arete

With over 182 million people, Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world. The annual growth rate of the population is approximately 2.7 per cent, and more than half the population are under 30 years of age.

Nigeria is the 10th largest producer of crude oil in the world and achieved lower-middle-income status in 2014. However, conflict in the northeast has displaced 1.7 million people and left another 8.7 million in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states. Over three million of them are in Borno State, the epicentre of the insurgency.

Damilola Onafuwa visited Yobe State on assignment for WFP and met many families fleeing from armed insurgents.

Sadiya and her 10-month-old daughter, Ruqayyah sit in front of their home in Yobe State, Nigeria. WFP Nigeria continues their famine prevention work by offering child malnutrition programmes that focus on children who suffer from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).

The mother of 15 children, Amina, receives a food parcel at a Food Distribution Point in Yobe State Nigeria. “I lost everything and spent three days on the road while fleeing,” she says.

Photographer: Siegfried Madola
World Food Programme/ Arete

At the height of the annual hunger season from June to August, some 6.8 million people in northern Nigeria will not know where their next meal will come from.

According to a new assessment, conflict is spreading from the northeast to the northwest — engulfing the entire north of Nigeria.

Camps have been set up, such as this one in Zamfara State, northwestern Nigeria, to shelter internally displaced people.

In this photo taken by Siegfried Madola, a woman holds up her prepaid card from WFP, which will enable her to buy food and vital supplies.

WFP Somalia

Photographer: Ismail Taxta
World Food Programme/ Arete

Somalia was gripped by famine in 2011. Since then, a combination of improved early warning measures, donor mobilization and a sustained, large-scale humanitarian response from both government and partners have resulted in gradual improvements to the food security situation.

Now, however, the combined impacts of COVID-19 and desert locust infestations, coupled with insecurity, political tension and recurrent climatic shocks such as flooding and drought, threaten to undo this recovery. Nearly half the population, some 5.6 million people, are currently unable to access adequate nutritious food. Of those, 2.7 million people are expected to face ‘crisis’ level food insecurity or worse by June 2021.

Climate shocks pose continual risks to crop production and to livestock, which increases unemployment and drives up prices — compounding a high reliance on food imports and threatening access to food for low-income families.

Arete photographer Ismail Taxta documented how WFP Somalia is supporting the provision of school meals across Mogadishu — part of a broader WFP response to meet urgent food and nutrition needs, while also supporting Somalia in building longer-term resilience and food security. Hundreds of thousands of children receive two nutritious meals every day, which means they can concentrate on their studies and not feel hungry. These meals also provide a safety net for poor families, which might otherwise struggle to feed their children; and are entirely sourced from local producers and retailers, strengthening local economies and helping communities to resist shocks.

A child holds up her lunch at a school in Mogadishu, Somalia. WFP Somalia continues to support the provision of school meals and quality kitchen facilities in schools across Somalia.

Students eat lunch at a school in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Saabirin says,”I love eating meals at school. Today my classmates and I are talking about hot meals because the change to hot meals this week has made us very happy, I’d like to study at this school until I grow up. In the future, I would like to be a doctor.”

WFP needs to raise $5B US Dollars in 2021 to avert famine and meet the urgent food and nutritional requirements of those most at risk.

Donate and learn more here: https://cdn.wfp.org/2021/preventing-famine/


Why clear communication is vital to the success of immunisation campaigns

Photo: Kate Holt/ GAVI/ Arete. A health worker prepares to vaccinate a baby with a routine vaccination at a health clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

As the world starts to vaccinate against COVID-19, social, economic, and geographic issues are magnified. These include access to the vaccines for vulnerable communities, misinformation, and gender inequality.

Without clear communication strategies and organised implementation, immunisation campaigns can become ineffective, allowing the opportunity for misinformation and dishonest narratives to enter the discourse and alter the outcome.

There have been recent examples of this with Polio vaccinations in Afghanistan, where religious hard-liners spread rumours of children falling sick from the vaccine, with devastating consequences for three local vaccinators. In Malawi, ‘Vaccine hesitancy’ is contributing to a reduced uptake in the Covid-19 vaccine due to ‘a lack of understanding’.

And in parts of Serbia, where despite the government having stock of five different Covid-19 vaccines, suspicion around the vaccine’s side effects led to more than 92 in 100 people refusing to be immunised.

Ultimately, vaccines don’t save people; it’s the vaccinations that do, so how do our communication efforts contribute to encouraging positive human behaviour?

Successful immunisation campaigns depend on clear communication

Underpinning any immunisation campaign must be a comprehensive narrative and visual communications strategy targeting all sections of society, which uses local context and social norms to motivate people to vaccinate; delivered in multiple languages, or with content that can be interpreted universally despite individual levels of literacy, such as animation.

7.7 million unimmunized children live in fragile or humanitarian settings, global vaccination coverage is at 85% but better immunization could prevent an additional 1.5 million deaths.


To successfully communicate the benefits of vaccination, it is essential to ‘speak the language’ of every community both literally and figuratively, using terms that are readily understood and demonstrating an appreciation for local social problems and respect for local customs and culture.

Some key considerations of a communications strategy might include the primary message you want to communicate, what media will be the most suitable for disseminating information, and what resources will be required to deliver this strategy effectively.

Communication tools should focus on a human-centred design and, where possible, can be innovative in their approach, for example, an immunisation board game for families.

Communications to encourage a positive change in human behaviour

For many, firmly held views do not change fast; it can take time for people to change their attitudes. The main goal of any immunisation campaign is to increase vaccine coverage. Therefore the aim of communications must be to bring about a positive behavioural change in those who oppose vaccination or don’t know differently.

Some parents don’t recognise the threat of diseases they don’t see or understand, in Colombia for example more than 48% of caregivers were unaware that their child was under-vaccinated (the Quechuan language (spoken in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina) alone has 9 dialects making generic vaccination messages almost impossible).

Educational content alone won’t lead to this change; an immunisation comms strategy must be multi-faceted. Target audiences must be identified, and communication tactics and content designed in partnership with local communities and delivered accordingly.

Through working directly with affected or beneficiary communities to hear their problems, struggles and opinions we can assess what strategy will work best.

Photo: Kate Holt/ GAVI/ Arete. A group of women with their children learn about routine vaccinations at a health clinic in Moyamba, Sierra Leone.

Engage with different communities

Mobilising the community is essential to the success of any immunisation programme. In order to mobilise the community, it is important to interact with the various target audiences in person and, in partnership with local communities, prepare content, such as posters and videos, that can be easily disseminated to follow up and reinforce the message.

What are the different sectors of communities? Why do you need to define comms differently to each different section of society?

Most communities in the world will contain a number of different sectors, as an example. these may include religious and community leaders, teachers, health workers, parents, and children. A communications strategy should identify each of these sectors, and outline a plan on how to interact.

This interaction could take place in community meetings, religious places, shops and marketplaces. But also indirectly via local theatre, radio and television. The aim of the message will remain the same, but the delivery should vary depending on your audience. If using illustrative flashcards in a mosque, for example, the people in the depictions should be dressed appropriately.

Community mobilisation is an important step for promoting the long-term commitment to sustained behaviour change and leading to a feeling of local ownership of the immunisation campaign — ensuring higher participation and involvement of everyone in a shared goal.

Photo: Brian Ongoro/ UNICEF/ Arete — Villagers in South Sudan learn about the dangers of coronavirus from a UNICEF partner organisation.

Community conversation

Community meetings

A collective community discussion of a particular issue within the immunisation campaign, such as a poor turnout, can be a great and inclusive way to problem solve.

Community meetings can prove to be a suitable and effective platform for discussion, ensuring that everyone is given the opportunity to be heard. It is important that people feel at ease enough to share their opinions for a productive community conversation.

This can be achieved by clearly communicating the purpose of the conversation, organising a meeting place where there will be little interference, and chairing the meeting to facilitate a fair, open, and non-judgmental conversation.

In addition to general community meetings, organising meetings and creating content that is targeted at specific interest groups is also useful — this could be with community leaders, parents, other NGOs and partners, or special groups such as ethnic, minority, and religious groups.

Photo: Kate Holt/ UNICEF/ Arete. A local family talk about the polio vaccination with a World Health Organisation representative.

Personal conversations

Immunisation advocates can be effective at encouraging a change in behaviour with certain community members through interpersonal communication.

One-on-one conversations and conversation with small groups can be a great way to persuade individuals about the value of a proposed behaviour change by explaining and responding to questions about the vaccination programme and providing practical information regarding how and when to vaccinate. This can also be an effective way to challenge and quash misinformation and rumour.

Advocacy

Advocacy activities at a stakeholder and organisational level are also key to garnering support for an immunisation programme. Lobbying, negotiations, meetings, and the sharing of educational content such as PDF presentations and videos of first-hand beneficiary storytelling, can be effective tools for influencing opinion leaders, policymakers, and politicians — ensuring support for the national deployment of a campaign.

A slide from a presentation Arete prepared for UNICEF stakeholders to report on a Polio immunisation campaign in Papua New Guinea.

Combatting misinformation and negative rumours

A robust and organised communication campaign with a clear message will be your strongest ally in combating misinformation. Creating content, such as animation and posters, that are universally understood and disseminated en-mass can directly address and dispel negative rumours.

A poster designed by Arete for the UNICEF Polio Global Eradication Initiative.

But the most important aspect of combating misinformation is knowing what is being spread. Understanding what the rumour is, and where the misinformation originated, will be key to dismantling any argument underpinning it effectively.

This understanding should inform the creation of your content, the agenda of community meetings, and the training of volunteers, and staff, to create ongoing communication to combat potentially life-threatening misinformation.

Experience shows that strategic actions need to be based on information that identifies patterns and differences among users, non-users, and inconsistent users of immunisation services.

Clear communication

If all programs in the sector are provided with the necessary resources, assuming they are available, then they will be able to contribute significantly to immunisation by increasing and maintaining demand and advocating for continuous support for vaccine programs among partners and decision-makers.

Although not an exhaustive list of activities that can be undertaken. Many of these activities demonstrate why a well-designed and organised communication strategy is a vital component.

We source and manage local experts in photography, video, digital and written content from around the world to help you tell stories that make a difference, working with you in the office or the field.

Contact us to find out how we can help you make an impact through exceptional storytelling and targeted communications strategies


Why clear communication is vital to the success of immunisation campaigns was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


How to use animation to tell difficult stories

As one of the most engaging digital mediums used to tell stories, animations are king of content.

When stories are complex and delicate, the nature of a more traditional, true to life video, can introduce factors that can distract from the story’s core message.

As an example, when a video relies on the performance of actors, it may not effectively communicate the authentic emotions and feelings of the story. Or sometimes, people watching a video may not be able to engage with the characters, which may turn them off listening to the message.

Through using animated characters or symbols to relay a message or story, the storyteller has complete control, and the content can be more easily digested by the viewer, who feels less confronted by the real-life nature of the subject. The finest details of an animated message can also be fine-tuned to ensure the message is clear and carries the point across in the most effective way.

At Arete, we often recommend the use of animated films to our clients who need to tell more complex narratives.

Complete control

Immersive storytelling

Compared to other mediums, animation gives the creator complete control over what is depicted; a skilled animator can hone in on the key aspects of each element of the story, blocking out anything that may be irrelevant or distracting. This allows for a truly immersive experience for the viewer, which in turn means that the key messages are being delivered in the most powerful way.

Communicate emotion effectively

Humans all display emotion in different and nuanced ways; through using animation, one can remove any ambiguity around what the protagonist of the story is feeling. The emotions of animated characters can be carefully controlled and, where necessary, exaggerated, ensuring that the narrative of the story unfurls in a structured and strategic way. This close control over the communication of emotion can be utilised very effectively to engage and influence an audience.

Create a connection

Research has proven that some people also find it easier to relate to, and therefore, empathise with animated characters.

As James Isgrove, Arete’s lead animator, explains, “Animated characters can be made as simplified or complex as you like. In some cases, the simpler they are, the better. This provides the viewer with enough of a blank canvas to project themselves on to the character, and therefore, imagine what the character might be feeling. This can catalyse a deep and meaningful connection with both the character and the story.”

Unbound creativity

Animation is limited only by the extent of creativity; it allows for a story to be told in almost any way. Animation offers greater flexibility to communicate through symbolism, which means complex subjects and delicate stories can be expressed in a more palatable way, creating a more engaging experience.

The most effective storytelling can utilise symbolism to communicate the emotion of the characters on-screen without using any words. UNICEF South Sudan commissioned Arete to create five short animations that would reflect the dreams of child soldiers. In this video, in which the young girl narrates her story, she doesn’t need to say that she felt scared, small, and insignificant.

By shrinking the character representing the girl and making the character that represents the soldier monstrously large, each of these emotions is symbolically communicated effectively and efficiently without need for further explanation.

Approach topics tactfully

The creative use of symbolism can also ensure difficult topics are expressed tactfully but with enough weight to indicate significance. Through the use of abstract visuals, complex and upsetting situations can be simplified so that they are easier for the viewer to watch and interpret.

In another of these videos, a young boy narrates a story that is recurring in his nightmares.

In this story, the young boy depicts how he was forced to watch soldiers slit his father’s throat. It was difficult to work out how best to portray that,” lead animator James Isgrove describes. “With upsetting and delicate scenes, such as this one, sometimes it is better to leave some of the details to the viewer’s imagination. The idea is to lead the story down a path and let the viewer’s mind fill in the blanks”.

Utilising sound

The power of the imagination can also be realised through the use of descriptive sound. One’s imagination is the most compelling storytelling tool, and with the right stimulus, it can be utilised to communicate a story more powerfully than any visual depiction.

For example, in this animation, this ex-child soldier describes how she was beaten with heavy chains. By employing the sound of chains rattling and thumping, we were able to descriptively, yet delicately, depict this horrific chapter in her story without the need to animate a distressing scene.

Educational videos made easy — Aga Khan University — How the news becomes the news

Animation can also be effectively employed to explain complex situations and processes in a simplified and easy-to-understand manner, granting storytellers the ability to create simple on-screen scenarios, which can effectively communicate a process — such as how the news becomes the news.

In this animation, commissioned by the Aga Khan School of Media and Communication in Kenya, the goal was to educate the audience on how a news story’s facts and content are gathered and checked before it is published.

To conclude, animation is a versatile medium that offers comprehensive creative control and the ability to engage with all audiences. When utilised correctly, animations can be used to tell both delicate and informative stories effectively.

Do you have a complex story that could be told using animation? Here is how to reach out to our animation team.

Arete is the expert storytelling and training agency for NGOs, UN bodies and foundations

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


From the photographers: Climate change

Photo: Kate Holt

“Climate Change is a phenomenon that can not be ignored. Raising awareness of the issue, and showing how the effects of a changing climate impact people’s lives, is essential to changing public opinion about the topic and forcing governments to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions.

A warming planet is currently having a much greater impact in poorer countries, very often those that are not responsible for generating high emissions. As well as the science needed to explain what is happening, photos are essential in shaping opinion and driving change.

I have been working as a photographer for over 20 years in many of the countries most acutely impacted by extreme weather patterns as a result of global warming. Every year, more and more countries are having to deal with these events and the resilience of poorer families decreases annually.

In Somalia, for example, with every year that goes by with no rain, people’s herds of sheep and goats are reduced by adverse weather conditions, until they have nothing left. This forces them into makeshift camps where they become dependent on food aid. In Madagascar, rising sea levels are causing flooding in coastal communities resulting in increasing water-borne diseases because freshwater supplies get contaminated.

People often feel helpless when confronted by such huge issues. It is essential to also tell the positive stories which demonstrate how people are fighting back; and the impact that individual actions can have.

Tree and mangrove nurseries have sprung up in Madagascar and Somalia that allow communities to purchase to replant depleted mangrove swamps and forest, with previously stopped coastal sea levels rising. Mangroves also provide carbon sinks and are havens for a wide variety of different plants and animals. These initiatives prove that when people come together to find a solution, it is possible to reduce the impact of global warming.” — Kate Holt, Director of Arete Stories.

Photo: Kate Holt/ WaterAid UK / Arete. A young boy stands on a bridge in the evening light in the city of Morondavo in Madagascar. Despite being surrounded by water, and regular rainfall, 48 %of the population of Madagascar do not have access to clean water and 88% lack basic sanitation. Extensive flooding occurs annually in Morandavo due to depleted mangrove swamps, but communities are fighting back by replanting.

We asked several of our talented Arete Photographers to share photographs from their countries, highlighting the issues a changing climate is bringing to their communities. Some show the problem, others the solution.

Aaron Palabyab — Philippines

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a Philippines based filmmaker and photographer specialising in travel-oriented content and time-lapse photography. He started working with Arete last year.

These photos are from the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, which caused never-before-seen flooding and damage in the Philippine capital region of Metro Manila. Several subdivisions were flooded and subsequently buried in mud, causing widespread destruction in the capital. Yet this level of flooding was nearly repeated last year during Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco), showing that the unprecedented is threatening to become the norm due to climate change”.

Gregory Escande — Mozambique

@photo_in_moz

Gregory Escande is a French-language teacher and photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique who has recently completed his first assignment for Arete.

Sometimes, you can see men walking and carrying a lot of 5 litre plastic bottles. They collect these bottles all around the city and neighbourhoods, and they then resell them in bulk to people who reuse them to make cubes of ice. The man in the photo has approximately 70 bottles, and he sells each for 5 meticais ($0.06)”.

In this photo, you can see Amelia, 60 years old, and she supports her entire family (children and grandchildren) by collecting cans or plastic for recycling. On her head, she has approximately $5 worth of recycling that she has collected”.

Massoud Hossaini — Afghanistan

@massoud151

Massoud is a photographer based in Kabul, Afghanistan and 2012 Pulitzer prize winner.

“I was born in the wrong place, Afghanistan; grow up in the wrong place, Iran; living and working in the wrong place, Kabul; let’s see what will happen”.

There are two shots of a window view of Kabul. One in the sunny morning around 11 AM. And the second in the afternoon, about 4 PM, which is when people start to use their coal or wood heaters. These, unfortunately, produce a lot of pollution”.

Kate Holt — USA & UK

@kateholtphoto

Kate is a US-based photographer who has worked extensively across Africa and Asia. Kate is the director of Arete and trustee of RE:ACT disaster response and the Royal Humane Society.

“Mongias ten year old daughter Sandra drinks water from the stream in Bekalalao Village, Madagascar. Mongia says “We collect water from the small lake. It’s not suitable for us but what can we do? We get belly ache a lot, so we have to go to the doctor. But then we come back again and drink the dirty water and the cycle is repeated. But what can we do? We always have belly ache and diarrhoea. We keep getting sick.”

Bekalalo is a very poor community and there is no clean water; the community is forced to collect water for both drinking and washing from stagnant ponds in the community where livestock also drink from”.

Karel Pinsloo — Kenya

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning African photographer. He works for many NGO’s and news organisations throughout Africa and is one of Arete’s main photographers.

I recently visited Turkana, Kenya, where UNICEF is providing safe water and energy through the construction of boreholes and solar panels. This provides much-needed water and renewable energy to a community where water has become increasingly scarce”.

Saiyna Bashir — Pakistan

@saiynabashirphoto

Saiyna is a photojournalist based in Pakistan, and a frequent contributor to the NY Times, Reuters, the Telegraph and others.

Forester, Adalat, holds a tree sapling in the field where out-of-work labourers due to the pandemic have now been hired by the government as ‘jungle workers’ in a reforestation initiative to plant 10-billion trees to deal with climate change threats on the outskirts of Peshawar”.

Below, Abu, who is out of school due to the pandemic, also works as a ‘jungle worker’ in the new tree planting initiative”.

Oluwaseun Oluwamuyiwa — Nigeria

@jomiphotography

Oluwaseun is a Nigerian born photojournalist and has been working with Arete for two years, with NGOs such as the World Food Programme.

“Climate change is staring us right in the face. With the consistent rise of human activities such as burning fossil fuels and wastes, we will need to do a better job in educating people about the hazard caused to the environment by engaging in such activities, especially in rural communities. This is a site in Adamawa State where waste is burned daily”.

Angelo Mendoza — Phillipines

@angelomendo

Angelo is a professional photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His work mainly revolves around travel, lifestyle, and adventure but also extends to documentary filmmaking and time-lapse photography.

I took this image last February, 2020, in Mangatarem, Pangasinan where I witnessed fire spreading across the mountain range. I’m uncertain how it started, but due to the heat and lack of trees, the dry grasslands allowed the fire to spread at an alarming rate. In the centre of the photograph, a tiny silhouette of an eagle can be seen flying over the burning land. In the Phillipines, as the severity of climate change increases caused by deforestation and other environmental problems, more and more animals lose their homes and struggle to thrive in the wild”.

Isak Amin — Somalia

@isak_amin

Isak is a Somali photographer who specialises in landscapes, nature, and travel photography. Isak has been working with Arete for many years for a range of UN agencies across East Africa.

I took this photo in 2016 during a severe drought which affected all areas of Somaliland, forcing rural dwellers to flee their homes on-mass and seek assistance in the cities; they had nothing to eat and no water, their livestock had gone”.

How great content and stories can help raise awareness about the effects of climate change and help people make informed decisions.

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ World Food Programme / Arete

Natural disasters are an increasing result of climate change, and the nature of our work means we often document the important work NGOs do to help those adversely affected. A recent example is a project we undertook for the World Food Programme in Pakistan with photographer Saiyna Bashir.

The Sindh Government announced a state of emergency on 25th of August, 2020, with 20 districts declared calamity-affected by an epidemic of flooding and landslides. The number of people impacted was estimated to be over 1 million, with 300,000 people in need of food assistance.

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ WFP/ Arete

In an attempt to raise awareness of the issue and the need for local and international support, we were tasked with documenting how the WFP is supporting people in rural Sindh with life-saving supplies

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ WFP/ Arete

The result was broad coverage in the local and international press, including The Telegraph, Dawn, the Independent, and Next Blue; this led to many people donating money to support those they had read about and seen in the photos.

To talk to us about telling your climate change stories and how best to disseminate them to your digital audience, you can contact us here.

We source and manage local experts in photography, video, digital and written content from around the world to help you tell stories that make a difference. We can work with you in your office or in the field.


From the photographers: Climate change was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


The power of social media and blogging for NGOs and CSR

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ Arete. Motorcycle taxi operators watch a video of a policeman arresting a man on YouTube in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, on 1st February 2021. Social media has the power to connect people from all walks of life, in every corner of the world.

We live in a digital age, where the internet has enabled the connection of people and organisations on a scale never seen before. And, as we enter 2021, the power of social media and blogs to reach new, and existing audiences, for both ‘NGO’s and corporations is firmly established.

Social networks now connect more than half of the world’s population, approximately 4.57 billion people. From Facebook to Snapchat, Instagram to Twitter, each social media platform has a certain type of user, and therefore, a different level of digital marketing value for organisations (for more on this, read our blog on picking the right social media platforms to share your content here).

Social networks are here to stay. So how can you and your organisation maximise their impact in your marketing and communication strategies?

The power of social media

Reach out to current and potential supporters across the globe

One of social media’s great benefits is the ability for anyone to interact with it, anywhere in the world (providing they have access to the internet). By creating a platform on multiple social media platforms, one can maximise the potential of its global reach.

As with any brand, driving support and advocacy is vital, and, providing one has a plan, social media can be the most incredible tool for achieving this goal. At the heart of any good social media plan, is the timely delivery of consistent content that is designed to appeal to a target audience.

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ Arete. Abdul Abdallah speaks to friends on Whatsapp in a restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya. Social media has the power to connect people from all walks of life, in every corner of the world.

Whether it is photos, videos, podcasts, blog posts, or digital social interactions, every time these are used by a brand to illustrate a story, social media users have the opportunity to react, engage or discover the brand. Think of every piece of content as a digital asset, imbued with the values and intentions of one’s organisation; once these assets are posted in the digital space the scope for them to be shared, used, and reused is endless.

In essence, every share or repost represents free marketing and what organisation wouldn’t want to encourage this? Many NGOs and CSR focussed organisations continue to successfully leverage the power of social media to introduce their brand and cause to new potential supporters, driving advocacy, support and growth.

Is your organisation using social media to its full potential?

Encourage supporter retention by increasing communication

Social media has also become a key channel for feedback and communication. As people become more involved and passionate about a brand or cause, it is natural for them to feel like they want to be more involved or recognised as an essential member or supporter.

Social media offers the tools, and a platform, for one’s supporters to fulfil these desires. It provides a communication channel for them to ask questions, send their best wishes or discuss their misgivings.

This communication is a two-way process, and when utilised correctly by a social media specialist, it can help bolster support and advocacy for your brand efficiently and effectively.

Halima Juma speaks to a friend on the phone as Michael Aufufa looks at Facebook on his phone in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Social media has the power to connect people from all walks of life, in every corner of the world.

Increase website traffic

Although social media platforms can be a powerful tool for introducing people to your brand, there are still limitations on what and how content can be shared. For example, a Twitter biography will only allow for 160 characters, and Instagram doesn’t allow hyperlinks in the body of its posts. These limitations do not apply to an organisations website where more in-depth information can be gained.

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/Arete. A lady scrolls through Facebook on her phone in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Social media has the power to connect people from all walks of life, in every corner of the world.

Social media platforms are an important part of a digital strategy as they provide the perfect stage to present one’s brand to the world, and specifically designed tools to funnel viewers through to one’s website.

We know, websites allow for more creativity and functionality in the design and presentation of one’s content; presenting viewers with the ability to sign up and follow the cause, donate, or purchase. it is important that as one funnels visitors through to a website, that they come into contact with a clear ‘call to action’. As a result, it will make it much more likely that any viewer interested enough to visit one’s website, will return.

The power of blog articles

The key to search engine optimisation

Each and every blog article must be designed with two key considerations:

1. the appeal of the subject to one’s target audience, and

2. the keyword phrases it will aim to rank for on search engines to attract a new audience.

An incredible 93% of all web traffic comes through search engines, with Google accounting for nearly 89% of this traffic. For this reason, blogs should be designed around certain keywords phrases, which can become a powerful mechanism for reaching out to new audiences. These audiences know what they are looking for and they are using a search engine to locate it, and by design, each blog article ranking for these keywords will increase the chance that it is your website they find.

A library of content that reinforces expertise and tells a story

Whether comprising solely of words or annotated with images and videos, blog articles provide a fantastic storytelling platform. This platform can be used as the core storytelling instrument for a short-term campaign, from which all other forms of campaign media, such as PR, social media posts, and videos spiral out of; it can share nuanced insight and discourse on a matter important to one’s cause, or reflect on current affairs.

Every blog article represents an opportunity to prove to the reader that one’s brand, or cause, is worthy of their involvement; to demonstrate expertise and credibility; and ultimately, to furnish one’s website with a library of content that provides any visitor, old or new, with value.

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/Arete. Tessy Waithera looks at Instagram while walking past a garbage heap in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Social media has the power to connect people from all walks of life, in every corner of the world.

Leverage the potential of the ‘blogosphere’

There are many websites designed specifically for the hosting and sharing of blog articles. Two of the most influential in the philanthropy sector, and commonly used by us here at Arete, are Medium and Exposure.

The two platforms have their differences, Medium is more suited to in-depth discussion and discourse, whereas Exposure is more suited to pieces built around emotive imagery and photography. Similarly to social media platforms, both share the ability to boost one’s content to audiences across the globe and provide another opportunity to rank on the search engines for one’s selected keyword phrases.Ultimately, both websites provide the tools and a stage to essentially ‘self publish’ one’s stories, musings, and documentaries. Whereas the algorithmic systems that underpin each website will share one’s content to its users (depending on the quality and relevance), at the last, the onus is upon you to ensure the links to your published content are shared far and wide.

Photo: Karel Prinsloo/ Arete. Defer Mutara uses Whatsapp to communicate with friends in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Social media has the power to connect people from all walks of life, in every corner of the world.

The most successful digital marketing strategies combine the two

Although social media and blog articles are powerful individual marketing tools, a greater synergy can be realised when the two are combined as part of a broader digital marketing strategy.

Sustaining both should be a stream of unique and evocative content: photographs, graphic design, videos, and stories. Each captured and presented in a creative and engaging way. The digital world of social media and blogging is fast-paced and saturated, although one can consistently update platforms with new blogs and posts, high-quality content and a clear digital strategy are fundamental for cutting through the noise.

Behind the blog: As Covid 19 spreads around the world, how do we build resilience in the communities most at risk?

In March of 2020, we combined some of our early coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa, with a discussion around what steps the philanthropy sector should be taking to build resilience amongst the communities in some of the world’s least economically developed countries.

In the blog, we discussed the need to combat misinformation and get the right messages across and, calling on an example of a campaign we ran for UNICEF Papua New Guinea, how this can be achieved with creative content.

We are here to help

In this age of constant digital noise, it is crucial that organisations have a consistent stream of high-quality social media. At Arete, we offer a social media management service, in which we curate your social media platforms to engage and inspire your followers. From multi-platform post creation, blog writing, email campaigns, SEO and analytics, our packages span a vast range of services that are essential if you want to be visible in today’s world.

Our teams specialise in creating social media content and strategies for NGOs and CSR projects. If you are a small organisation, we understand that sometimes resources are limited and time is short. At Arete, we aim to provide a consistent and integrated level of support, ensuring you can maintain a strong digital presence without the cost associated with employing a full-time member of staff.

Packages start from just 200 GBP/ 300 USD per month. To talk to us about your social media, email campaign, or blog writing requirements you can get in touch here.


The power of social media and blogging for NGOs and CSR was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Photo: Isak Amin/ FAO Somalia/ Arete

”2020 has been an extraordinary year. For photographers, videographers and writers, it has meant dramatically changing the way they work. Many have been unable to travel, and for those who can, assignments have become increasingly challenging, with new systems needed to ensure that peoples health and well being is prioritised over everything else.

We have seen an increasing demand for locally based photographers, to overcome travel restrictions, which has allowed us to expand our consultant database. At the same time, we have also seen budgets dramatically cut, which has proved challenging. As we look ahead to 2021, we hope that we can continue to tell important stories that can help make a difference.” — Kate Holt, Photojournalist & Director of Arete Stories.

In what has been an extremely challenging year our final blog of 2020 is a reflection on some of this year’s more positive moments as seen by Arete photographers from around the world.

We asked some of the fantastic photographers we have worked with on assignments this year to share with us one of their favourite photographs and explain why this photo represents positivity to them.

Quinn Mattingly

@quinnryanmattingly

Quinn is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and has recently worked with us on projects for the Costa Foundation

Tell us about the photo: “This image was shot in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam, on assignment for Arete in one of the schools the Costa Foundation supports.This young girl is practising a dance for the Harvest Festival performance at her school, which happens every September in Vietnam”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The look of confidence and happiness on this girls face, as she practices her dance one last time before the performance, really struck me. It represents positivity to me in that we can do anything we set our minds to, especially, and even at a young age”.

Eden Sparke

@edensparkephoto

Eden is a London-based photojournalist, specialising in humanitarian, sports, and news photography. She has worked with Arete for the last three years and carried out many assignments throughout Africa.

Tell us about the photo: “This was taken at a JHPIEGO outreach clinic in Kampala, Uganda. I was there photographing the great work of JHPIEGO in spreading awareness of, and access to, family planning initiatives. This particular clinic was in the forecourt of a hair extension and wig-making factory — the team set up the tent which had two consultation rooms and a reception area, and healthcare workers talked to the factory staff as they finished their shifts”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The woman in the photo, Nancy, had a consultation about her options for family planning, and she chose to have an IUD inserted there and then. ’She’s laughing in the photo as it ’didn’t hurt as much as she had expected!

It represents positivity to me because her happiness underlines that we are making great strides in helping women to make choices over their bodies and their futures. This year may have put a lot of things on hold, but there is so much good work out there still to be done and so many wonderful people out there ready to do it!”

Moses Sawasawa

@mosessawasawa

Moses is a photojournalist and ’women’s rights activist, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tell us about the photo: “I took these photos in the overcrowded village of Minova in South Kivu. This village has suffered many atrocities for years but the inhabitants do not give up. In this photo, Mr Kandu Hamuli works as a carpenter. He is a father to 7 children. Mr Hamuli is the sole earner for his family — despite the hardships around him he doesn’t give up.

Mr Hamuli says “I have been doing this job for 17 years and is what my father did before me. It gives me enough money to support my family.”

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? Mr Hamuli represents the bravery of his community. It also shows the love he has for his children and how he is willing to work hard to bring happiness and safety to his family.”

Aaron Palabyab

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a Philippines based filmmaker and photographer specialising in travel-oriented content and time-lapse photography. He started working with Arete last year.

Tell us about the photo: “This was the most surreal, foggy sunrise, seen while my girlfriend and I were riding our motorcycles up to the mountains just outside Manila. ’I’ve never seen a sunrise like this in many years of pursuing photography in the Philippines.We had to pull off to the side of the road to admire it”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “There’s this mix of beauty and foreboding unreality in this photo that for me represents 2020 well. A few minutes after this photo was taken, the sun disappeared into the mist, but then a few more minutes up the road, the fog burned away and the sun shone in full glory.

It’s a reminder that no matter how dark and uncertain these times are now, one day, inevitably, the clouds must part, and the light that’s always been there will shine through again. Nature takes its course, and there’s beauty in that, no matter how dark it seems. It’s up to us to trust the process and live through the times we’ve been given”.

Gregory Escande

@photo_in_moz

Gregory Escande is a french language teacher and photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique who has recently completed his first assignment for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “It was taken in Maputo, Mozambique, in the Costa de Sol “bairro”. It had rained a little bit, and the ground was wet, but a group of 4 or 5 boys were playing with a ball. I asked them if they could do a jump with a ball header so that I could take a photo, and all the kids accepted to try a header. The boys tried many times, and two girls were watching and seemed to want to try too.

I encouraged the two young girls to attempt it, and this photo shows the first girl trying. Girls also play in sports in Mozambican schools, and one of the heroes of the nation is Maria Mutola, a Mozambican female track and field athlete, who is the only Mozambican, for both men and women, to win an Olympic or world title”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Mozambique is an extremely poor country, people are fighting every day for their survival and to support their families, and yet, people show dignity, kindness, and resilience. In my experience, people seem to be more optimistic and open-minded than in some developed countries. The child in the photo is also the symbol of joy, hope, and the ‘sans souci’.

To me this photo represents positivity because despite the difficult living conditions, even with the impression of a challenging future (symbolised in the photo by a grey, closed background) there are still suspended and fragile moments, in the harshness of everyday life, which are filled with optimism, joy and poetry”.

Massoud Hossaini

@massoud151

Massoud is a photojournalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan and 2012 Pulitzer prize winner.

“I was born in the wrong place, Afghanistan; grow up in the wrong place, Iran; living and working in the wrong place, Kabul; let’s see what will happen”.

Tell us about the photo: “In this photo, a man walks down the road as he sells balloons in Kabul, Afghanistan”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Positivity isn’t always easy to find in a place like Kabul. For me, the balloon seller in this photo is offering a piece of happiness, and the idea of a happier, more positive time with every balloon he sells”.

Kate Holt

@kateholtphoto

Kate is a US based photographer who works in both Africa and the Middle East. Kate is the director of Arete Stories, and trustee of RE:ACT and the Royal Humane Society.

Tell us about the photo: “This photo was taken in downtown DC about an hour after Jo Biden had been called as the winner of the US Election. I had gone down to the White House to see first hand the reaction to the news and came across queues of cars and people celebrating. I turned around and unexpectedly caught sight of these two girls looking very happy”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “This image represents hope as well as signifying change. Everything about the girls faces is positive”.

Solan Kolli

@solankolli_

Solan is a photographer and filmmaker based in Ethiopia and has worked on many creative projects for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “This picture was taken in Adame Yirgachafe, Ethiopia for the Costa Foundation to document the impact of their work which supports schools in coffee-growing communities in, Ethiopia”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “My positive first impression of Adancech is confirmed by her interactions with other people. She was smiling andglowing in the sunlight as I photographed her on the coffee farm.

Adanchech is the story of a single mother from an impoverished village in Ethiopia who 10 years after dropping out and giving birth to five children, was able to go back to school. It is a truly exceptional story. The energy, enthusiasm, and hope that she has shown for her second chance in life taught me that you could start all over again regardless of the past challenges”.

Karel Prinsloo

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning African photographer. He works for many NGO’s and news organisations throughout Africa and is one of Arete’s main photographers.

Tell us about the photo: “Children and a teacher walk past a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) health centre in the Mandruzi Resettlement neighbourhood, Mozambique. Mozambique continues to be impacted by the climate crisis and has yet to fully recover from the devastation of Cyclone Ida in 2019”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “I like the picture as it shows children playing without a care in the world despite their dire circumstances. They are living for the moment, a lesson we all learned this year”.

Kevin Ouma

A Kenyan based photographer, Kevin recently worked with us on a project for the World Food Programme.

Tell us about the photo: “Muhumad holds tomatoes she grows in her garden in Ceel-Hume Village , Somaliand. In Somaliland, the main overall issues affecting food security are the lack of access to safe water for human consumption, agriculture and livestock production, as well as seasonal hunger due to insufficient food and income at certain times of the year”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Even in adversity, there is still room for hope. Living in a post-conflict environment Muhammad has not been put down; she has put together a small garden that provides good food for her family and extra to sell and earn a living. Adversity will come just as Covid-19 has, but we can emerge stronger”.

Brian Ongoro

@brian_ongoro

A photographer based in Kisumu, Kenya, Brian covers East African and is an avid contributor to the AFP.

Tell us about the photo: “This photograph was taken in Kisumu, western Kenya during a cleanup exercise by a group of students. The students came out to clean areas surrounding Lake Victoria and a game park that is also next to the lake. Waves from the lake bring to shore plastics and other waste found in the lake.

The students have been home since March when schools were closed due to the spread of COVID-19. The students decided to organise themselves and spend their time at home cleaning up their environment. They want to engage in activities to help find solutions to the world’s problems — which they can participate in while they wait for infections from COVID-19 to reduce so that they can return to school.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “To me, this photograph shows that despite the challenges we are facing from COVID-19 and a lot of restrictions around the world, instead of just sitting and waiting for medical experts who are focusing on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, people can still focus their time and energy trying to solve other pressing issues”.

Roshni Lodhia

@roshni.lodhia

Roshni describes herself as a photographer for people, culture and conversation.

Growing up in Tanzania, Roshni found her calling in telling stories of grassroots conservation efforts through photography and film. Her work is unique in the way she captures light and the human spirit. Roshni has worked for conservation organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, in Tanzania, Kenya, Gabon, Seychelles, South Africa and India.

Tell us about the photo: “Joy and Antoney playing on their ancestral land in Paradamat, Kenya. Only a few kilometres away, zebras are grazing. It represents harmony between wildlife and humans.

This image is part of a series telling the story of Johnson Soit. Johnson Soit agreed to remove the fence on the land that he has leased out to Paradamat Conservancy Area to allow the wildlife to move freely. He says: “I agreed for the wild animals to roam around because that benefits us. From the lease payments, I pay my children’s school fees.”

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020 was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020

Photo: Isak Amin/ FAO Somalia/ Arete

”2020 has been an extraordinary year. For photographers, videographers and writers, it has meant dramatically changing the way they work. Many have been unable to travel, and for those who can, assignments have become increasingly challenging, with new systems needed to ensure that peoples health and well being is prioritised over everything else.

We have seen an increasing demand for locally based photographers, to overcome travel restrictions, which has allowed us to expand our consultant database. At the same time, we have also seen budgets dramatically cut, which has proved challenging. As we look ahead to 2021, we hope that we can continue to tell important stories that can help make a difference.” — Kate Holt, Photojournalist & Director of Arete Stories.

In what has been an extremely challenging year our final blog of 2020 is a reflection on some of this year’s more positive moments as seen by Arete photographers from around the world.

We asked some of the fantastic photographers we have worked with on assignments this year to share with us one of their favourite photographs and explain why this photo represents positivity to them.

Quinn Mattingly

@quinnryanmattingly

Quinn is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and has recently worked with us on projects for the Costa Foundation

Tell us about the photo: “This image was shot in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam, on assignment for Arete in one of the schools the Costa Foundation supports.This young girl is practising a dance for the Harvest Festival performance at her school, which happens every September in Vietnam”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The look of confidence and happiness on this girls face, as she practices her dance one last time before the performance, really struck me. It represents positivity to me in that we can do anything we set our minds to, especially, and even at a young age”.

Eden Sparke

@edensparkephoto

Eden is a London-based photojournalist, specialising in humanitarian, sports, and news photography. She has worked with Arete for the last three years and carried out many assignments throughout Africa.

Tell us about the photo: “This was taken at a JHPIEGO outreach clinic in Kampala, Uganda. I was there photographing the great work of JHPIEGO in spreading awareness of, and access to, family planning initiatives. This particular clinic was in the forecourt of a hair extension and wig-making factory — the team set up the tent which had two consultation rooms and a reception area, and healthcare workers talked to the factory staff as they finished their shifts”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “The woman in the photo, Nancy, had a consultation about her options for family planning, and she chose to have an IUD inserted there and then. ’She’s laughing in the photo as it ’didn’t hurt as much as she had expected!

It represents positivity to me because her happiness underlines that we are making great strides in helping women to make choices over their bodies and their futures. This year may have put a lot of things on hold, but there is so much good work out there still to be done and so many wonderful people out there ready to do it!”

Moses Sawasawa

@mosessawasawa

Moses is a photojournalist and ’women’s rights activist, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tell us about the photo: “I took these photos in the overcrowded village of Minova in South Kivu. This village has suffered many atrocities for years but the inhabitants do not give up. In this photo, Mr Kandu Hamuli works as a carpenter. He is a father to 7 children. Mr Hamuli is the sole earner for his family — despite the hardships around him he doesn’t give up.

Mr Hamuli says “I have been doing this job for 17 years and is what my father did before me. It gives me enough money to support my family.”

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? Mr Hamuli represents the bravery of his community. It also shows the love he has for his children and how he is willing to work hard to bring happiness and safety to his family.”

Aaron Palabyab

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a Philippines based filmmaker and photographer specialising in travel-oriented content and time-lapse photography. He started working with Arete last year.

Tell us about the photo: “This was the most surreal, foggy sunrise, seen while my girlfriend and I were riding our motorcycles up to the mountains just outside Manila. ’I’ve never seen a sunrise like this in many years of pursuing photography in the Philippines.We had to pull off to the side of the road to admire it”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “There’s this mix of beauty and foreboding unreality in this photo that for me represents 2020 well. A few minutes after this photo was taken, the sun disappeared into the mist, but then a few more minutes up the road, the fog burned away and the sun shone in full glory.

It’s a reminder that no matter how dark and uncertain these times are now, one day, inevitably, the clouds must part, and the light that’s always been there will shine through again. Nature takes its course, and there’s beauty in that, no matter how dark it seems. It’s up to us to trust the process and live through the times we’ve been given”.

Gregory Escande

@photo_in_moz

Gregory Escande is a french language teacher and photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique who has recently completed his first assignment for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “It was taken in Maputo, Mozambique, in the Costa de Sol “bairro”. It had rained a little bit, and the ground was wet, but a group of 4 or 5 boys were playing with a ball. I asked them if they could do a jump with a ball header so that I could take a photo, and all the kids accepted to try a header. The boys tried many times, and two girls were watching and seemed to want to try too.

I encouraged the two young girls to attempt it, and this photo shows the first girl trying. Girls also play in sports in Mozambican schools, and one of the heroes of the nation is Maria Mutola, a Mozambican female track and field athlete, who is the only Mozambican, for both men and women, to win an Olympic or world title”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Mozambique is an extremely poor country, people are fighting every day for their survival and to support their families, and yet, people show dignity, kindness, and resilience. In my experience, people seem to be more optimistic and open-minded than in some developed countries. The child in the photo is also the symbol of joy, hope, and the ‘sans souci’.

To me this photo represents positivity because despite the difficult living conditions, even with the impression of a challenging future (symbolised in the photo by a grey, closed background) there are still suspended and fragile moments, in the harshness of everyday life, which are filled with optimism, joy and poetry”.

Massoud Hossaini

@massoud151

Massoud is a photojournalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan and 2012 Pulitzer prize winner.

“I was born in the wrong place, Afghanistan; grow up in the wrong place, Iran; living and working in the wrong place, Kabul; let’s see what will happen”.

Tell us about the photo: “In this photo, a man walks down the road as he sells balloons in Kabul, Afghanistan”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Positivity isn’t always easy to find in a place like Kabul. For me, the balloon seller in this photo is offering a piece of happiness, and the idea of a happier, more positive time with every balloon he sells”.

Kate Holt

@kateholtphoto

Kate is a US based photographer who works in both Africa and the Middle East. Kate is the director of Arete Stories, and trustee of RE:ACT and the Royal Humane Society.

Tell us about the photo: “This photo was taken in downtown DC about an hour after Jo Biden had been called as the winner of the US Election. I had gone down to the White House to see first hand the reaction to the news and came across queues of cars and people celebrating. I turned around and unexpectedly caught sight of these two girls looking very happy”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “This image represents hope as well as signifying change. Everything about the girls faces is positive”.

Solan Kolli

@solankolli_

Solan is a photographer and filmmaker based in Ethiopia and has worked on many creative projects for Arete.

Tell us about the photo: “This picture was taken in Adame Yirgachafe, Ethiopia for the Costa Foundation to document the impact of their work which supports schools in coffee-growing communities in, Ethiopia”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “My positive first impression of Adancech is confirmed by her interactions with other people. She was smiling andglowing in the sunlight as I photographed her on the coffee farm.

Adanchech is the story of a single mother from an impoverished village in Ethiopia who 10 years after dropping out and giving birth to five children, was able to go back to school. It is a truly exceptional story. The energy, enthusiasm, and hope that she has shown for her second chance in life taught me that you could start all over again regardless of the past challenges”.

Karel Prinsloo

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning African photographer. He works for many NGO’s and news organisations throughout Africa and is one of Arete’s main photographers.

Tell us about the photo: “Children and a teacher walk past a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) health centre in the Mandruzi Resettlement neighbourhood, Mozambique. Mozambique continues to be impacted by the climate crisis and has yet to fully recover from the devastation of Cyclone Ida in 2019”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “I like the picture as it shows children playing without a care in the world despite their dire circumstances. They are living for the moment, a lesson we all learned this year”.

Kevin Ouma

A Kenyan based photographer, Kevin recently worked with us on a project for the World Food Programme.

Tell us about the photo: “Muhumad holds tomatoes she grows in her garden in Ceel-Hume Village , Somaliand. In Somaliland, the main overall issues affecting food security are the lack of access to safe water for human consumption, agriculture and livestock production, as well as seasonal hunger due to insufficient food and income at certain times of the year”.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “Even in adversity, there is still room for hope. Living in a post-conflict environment Muhammad has not been put down; she has put together a small garden that provides good food for her family and extra to sell and earn a living. Adversity will come just as Covid-19 has, but we can emerge stronger”.

Brian Ongoro

@brian_ongoro

A photographer based in Kisumu, Kenya, Brian covers East African and is an avid contributor to the AFP.

Tell us about the photo: “This photograph was taken in Kisumu, western Kenya during a cleanup exercise by a group of students. The students came out to clean areas surrounding Lake Victoria and a game park that is also next to the lake. Waves from the lake bring to shore plastics and other waste found in the lake.

The students have been home since March when schools were closed due to the spread of COVID-19. The students decided to organise themselves and spend their time at home cleaning up their environment. They want to engage in activities to help find solutions to the world’s problems — which they can participate in while they wait for infections from COVID-19 to reduce so that they can return to school.

Why does this photo represent positivity to you? “To me, this photograph shows that despite the challenges we are facing from COVID-19 and a lot of restrictions around the world, instead of just sitting and waiting for medical experts who are focusing on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, people can still focus their time and energy trying to solve other pressing issues”.

Roshni Lodhia

@roshni.lodhia

Roshni describes herself as a photographer for people, culture and conversation.

Growing up in Tanzania, Roshni found her calling in telling stories of grassroots conservation efforts through photography and film. Her work is unique in the way she captures light and the human spirit. Roshni has worked for conservation organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, in Tanzania, Kenya, Gabon, Seychelles, South Africa and India.

Tell us about the photo: “Joy and Antoney playing on their ancestral land in Paradamat, Kenya. Only a few kilometres away, zebras are grazing. It represents harmony between wildlife and humans.

This image is part of a series telling the story of Johnson Soit. Johnson Soit agreed to remove the fence on the land that he has leased out to Paradamat Conservancy Area to allow the wildlife to move freely. He says: “I agreed for the wild animals to roam around because that benefits us. From the lease payments, I pay my children’s school fees.”

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Positive photos from a challenging year — 2020 was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Now, more than ever, it is important to tell the stories of those in need…

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/@WFP Afghanistan/ Arete . A child looks on as her mother and a doctor talk at the main hospital in Chaharikar, capital of Parwan province, Afghanistan.

As the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 continue to escalate across the world with over 60 million reported cases, now, more than ever, it is essential to tell the stories of those in need.

Although the global pandemic has presented NGOs with new and challenging circumstances for securing funding, some of which we will cover in more detail later, marketing efforts should be ramping up and not winding down. One should not give up telling the hard stories; those about people who are suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and other crises; those in urgent need of support.

The poignant question still remains: How do you garner backing for your campaigns amongst your target audiences when…

· Unemployment is rising and incomes falling — and will continue to do so. As a result, many people are struggling financially and turning to charities and their governments for support.

Financial uncertainty means people are less likely to support charities through monetary donations, as people try to reduce any non-essential expenses.

· Common freedoms have been restricted, such as the ability to purchase certain items, the freedom to go and do what we want, and the freedom to see who we want, when we want.

All of which is underpinned by feelings of powerlessness and frustration that the enforced circumstances of this challenging time lie beyond one’s control.

It’s not all bad news for driving advocacy…

A combination of being ‘locked down’, furloughed, working from home with more time on our hands and the ensuing winter months, mean that the average person is spending much more time in their home than usual, and as a result, more time online, watching television and engaging with other forms of media. This presents a unique and interesting opportunity to introduce new causes and brands via digital channels — albeit in a carefully curated way, as we will go on to discuss.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that ‘lockdown’ is leading to increased boredom. With less external stimulus, people are becoming more adventurous in the media they consume; looking to engage with stories vastly different from their own.

How we are helping WFP Afghanistan tell the story of their support for the Afghan people — as featured in the Telegraph

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete . Life goes on, girls walk to school on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As an example, Arete photojournalist, Massoud Hossaini, has been covering the current situation in Afghanistan — documenting the inspirational resilience of the Afghan people as well as the unrelenting lengths the World Food Programme will go to in order to be able to reach people all across the country.

Afghanistan is facing spiralling levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Close to 17 million Afghans, or 45% of the total population, now face high levels of food insecurity and need urgent humanitarian assistance in order to survive. That’s 7.6 million more than at the beginning of this year, before COVID-19 hit. Around 2.9 million children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished.

In 2020, the World Food Programme scaled up its emergency food assistance to support more than 10 million people, nearly doubling the number of people WFP reached in 2019. Nutrition programmes are reaching more than 1 million individuals, including children under 5, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. A local guard warms his hands in Kabul.
Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. World Food Programme trucks carry much-needed food supplies across the snowy Afghan mountains.

People who relate, donate

The global pandemic’s devastating effects have reached individuals in every socio-economic group. Many previously financially stable individuals, in more developed countries, are now experiencing unemployment, economic uncertainty, restrictions on personal freedom and an underlying sense of powerlessness and frustration with the current socioeconomic situation, with no end in sight.

Although this is an undeniably difficult set of circumstances for anyone to experience, it does present an opportunity for empathy to flourish. We are all connected by the far-reaching effects of this virus. It is possible that previous content and stories shared by NGOs, may not have been as relatable to the middle-class as they are now. Successful fundraising should tap into this new feeling to create a shared experience between the supporter of one’s cause and those in need.

Photo: Massoud Hossaini/ @WFP Afghanistan/ @Arete. Residents of Kabul who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic line up to register to receive cash assistance from the World Food Programme in district five of Kabul city.

Content that engages and inspires

The stories we choose to tell can also be a great source of inspiration for people who may be struggling as a result of the pandemic. Content that shows people responding to adversity with strength and resilience can inspire and lift our emotions. These feelings of positivity will often be attributed to your brand and campaign as a result — driving response to, and engagement with, your cause.

Photo: Dakman/ Quinn Mattingly/ Costa Foundation/ Arete

Don’t underestimate the importance of presentation

As with all forms of impactful marketing, the success of one’s campaigns will ultimately come down to how well they are aligned to the contemporary mood and challenges of the target audience.

It is at a time when it may seem prudent to delay planned campaigns until after the worst of the global pandemic has passed. In fact we should be sharing our hard hitting stories and campaigns now more than ever.

Our award-winning journalists and content specialists are eager to help you make a difference. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.


Now, more than ever, it is important to tell the stories of those in need… was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.