Inclusion Podcast

The power of storytelling

In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. “Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human communication,” says our guest Prodip, a volunteer and multi-media storyteller for the Bangladesh Red Crescent. “It inspires us to be a hero of our own community.” We also speak with one such community hero, Dalal al-Taji, a longtime volunteer and advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in emergencies response. “In disasters. persons with disabilities sometimes get forgotten.”

One of RCRC magazine’s key mandates was to raise critical questions so our readers and viewers  – mainly members of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement — could better understand the nuances of critical humanitarian issues. The magazine also had a mission of highlighting inspiring stories about the amazing humans that take on those challenges as Red Cross and Red Crescent workers around the world.

The interviews in this episode tick both those boxes.  

First, we catch up with someone we first interviewed in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dalal al Taji has had a long-time affiliation with the Palestinian Red Crescent and she has been visually impaired her entire life. Today, she is a globally recognized advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in emergency response.

With the help of her mother, Dalal helped us produce this video using her computer and cell phone camera at a time when she and everyone in her Gaza neighborhood were in Covid-19 lockdown. Because nearly all international travel was put on hold, the magazine had to come up with creative ways to help people get their stories out.

In this case, we wanted to know how Covid-19 was impacting people with disabilities in places also affected by other crises such as armed conflict, water shortages and power outages. Now, three years later, we wanted to get back in touch with Dalal to see if she felt the situation generally for people with disabilities in emergency settings has improved or not.

“I think it’s improved and not improved,” she says. “It’s improved in that people are more aware of the need to have a particular plan for including persons with disability in disaster, or in any pandemic or disaster management. But there is still there is no really clear outline or a clear plan or guidelines for persons with disabilities in terms of what they should do and how they could be included in disaster response.”

(To learn more about IFRC guidance on inclusion of people with disabilities and emergencies, see links at the bottom of this article).

The power of storytelling

Building on the experience producing stories remotely with mobile technology, in 2021 the magazine launched a new project to further equip National Society volunteers and staff to get stories directly from the people and communities where they live and work.

Known as the Storytelling Lab, the project engaged professional multi-media producers as coaches to guide National Society staff and volunteers as they used smart phones and a few other portable tools to make compelling digital stories for social media. In the last two years, the magazine has done storytelling labs in Yemen, Uganda, Honduras, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Kyrgystan and Nigeria.

In this episode, we speak with Hossain Mohammad Prodip, a volunteer with the Bangladesh Red Crescent, who produced two stories as part of the Storytelling Lab in 2022. One of the stories was about a man who helped his small nomadic community tackle Covid-19 with help from the Bangladesh Red Crescent. The other story including a series of charming photographs about a man who used cash grants from the National Society to jumpt start a small businesses growing betel leaves and other popular vegetables and herbs.

“Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of a human communication,” says Prodip. “It’s a platform that allows the audience to connect with each other’s shared experience and inspire us to be a hero of our own community. The stories help the volunteer teams to understand them through their voices, and to support them based on their needs.”

What kind of stories does Prodip want to tackle next? “Bangladesh is now at high risk for climate change,” he says. “Now I’m working as a climate team member … and I have found that the crops are not growing well due to the impact of climate change. I did some interviews with community people, from the local administration, and with a community leader. And our volunteers are now providing information that how can we reduce the impacts of climate change.”

“I would like to thank Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the communication department and the youth and volunteer department also, who gave me the opportunity to be a part of this storytelling Lab project. And my teammates who supported me, even our trainers who always helps us still out there supporting us while whenever we get problems, and especially you for supporting us.”

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