Training the bloggers for Baraka

It’s a true adventure. If someone had told me in the middle of November that I would be traveling to Africa not even three months later, I would have chuckled „yeah, right.“. If they had told me that, for the sake of a greater good, I would be teaching the art of blogging to three admirable young adults in Dakar, I would have laughed it off disbelievingly. But now, here I am. By order of Mrs. Ohoven’s You Foundation, I’m directly in the desolate neighborhood of Baraka, preparing Ousmane Ly, Aïssatou Sow, and Dieynaba Ba for their future as voice of their hometown. It’s truly a blessing to work with them.

Basic WordPress, basic journalism, basic photography. For the past one and a half weeks, we have tackled a whole shipload of new issues, and granted, it is not always easy to steer our group straight into safe waters. How do you post an article in two languages? How do you resize images on a Dell Venue 8 tablet PC (thank you, ASC Technologies AG)? How do you build custom menus? And why do we even need categories and keywords for our articles in WordPress?

In addition to the usual struggles of working with WordPress for the first time, there’s also every blogger’s beloved friend and enemy – the internet connection. Ours has a life of its own. A quite shaky one, that is. Sometimes it is fast as lightning, sometimes a sloth climbs down and up its tree faster. But Ousmane, Aïssatou, and Dienyaba are extremely brave and motivated. It amazes me every day how tough they hang in there, how patiently they try every necessary feature of WordPress to set up their blog.There have been quite a few mornings where I could see that they have been practicing in their free time. Something I definitely do not take for granted.

We still have quite a bit of work to do to get this blog up and running before I leave. Over the next couple of days we will revise what we have learnt so far, tackle the challenges of editorial planning, social media channels, and most importantly, start telling the stories of Baraka. I’m excited to hear their suggestions and to read their drafts. Watching them work together, helping each other, and growing as a team – I couldn’t be prouder.

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