Thuraya is continuing its efforts to support independent journalists through its latest sponsorship of Global Voices, an online citizen media community focused on amplifying voices from under-represented communities. The partnership focuses on empowering Global Voices through the donation of a Thuraya IP+ terminal and a full year of free connectivity, providing its community of correspondents with access to the Internet, email, social media, and VoIP applications in remote locations. Here, Eddie Avila, Rising Voices Director at Global Voices Online, discusses how the satellite equipment can support Rising Voices, their outreach initiative.
Over the past ten years, Global Voices‘ community of volunteer writers and translators have been scouring the web for the most interesting conversations happening online and presenting through careful curating, contextualization, and translation.
Through our news reporting, we have brought to light what happened during the Arab Spring. We listened to the voices of those families affected by the 2011 Japanese earthquake. And we sought to better understand the current landscape of the Russian internet by following and interpreting its unique context. All of these stories played out from our main source—the internet and the millions of digital storytellers around the world.
Yet, many underrepresented groups around the world are unable to take part in the conversation. Communities traditionally marginalized by society are often left out in the virtual world as well, without the ability to represent themselves on their own terms through digital means.
This is where our Rising Voices initiative comes in. Established in 2007, the initiative provides technical support, small-scale funding and mentoring to support underrepresented communities in using participatory media to tell their own stories, locally and globally.
To date, Rising Voices has launched more than 40 citizen media projects across the world, including in:
- Paraguay – Six rural Aché indigenous communities in Paraguay are using smartphones to document their culture and share news about what’s happening in their communities. This includes breaking the news on issues such as illegal land grabs, to ensure that the rest of the country, especially key decision-makers who are based hundred of kilometers away in the capital Asunción, remain updated on the current situation in these communities.
- Argentina – Every Tuesday at the Provincial Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Córdoba, our volunteers gather with the patients to produce a weekly radio program focusing on topics chosen by the program participants. After dozens of radio shows, the participants saw the need to take these conversations to a wider audience by producing an audio podcast that can be shared online with other hospitals across Latin America.
With increased internet penetration and the availability of less expensive mobile devices, the ability to connect is better than ever today. However, mentoring and accompaniment can only go so far, and we’re aware that communities in areas with limited connectivity may continue to watch from the sidelines. Serious gaps in coverage remain, hindering the ability of millions of people from sharing their stories.
This is why we hold high hopes about the partnership with Thuraya for our upcoming project in Asia, which would connect these communities to the rest of the world in ways unseen before. The combination of our two strategies: providing the access and the mentoring will help Rising Voices empower communities traditionally marginalized. As we develop the project in Asia with the community that will use the Thuraya IP+ terminal, we have the satisfaction that they will be an inspiration for other communities that will soon have the chance to share what is important to them.