The Wellcome International Public Engagement Workshop was held on Bangalore, India in December 2009. The theme was "Telling Stories: Why narrative matters in public engagement with science’, and the key questions for the conference were: when and how can we use storytelling properly in public engagement. mamaAfrica was invited to speak about the Rafiki Club. You can listen to the podcast at the link below (note that she does not speak until about 75% through the podcast).
[excerpt] The Rafiki program started by matching women who are recruited through the internet from a website called World Pulse (where we have a Rafiki Club), and the women are matched with women who are the members of Project Africa. They start writing letters as pen pals to each other. Every Monday, the Rafikis in Lunga Lunga and Godo have a session when they come with the letters they have received from their rafikis abroad and read those letters aloud. That's the first session that adds to literacy; we say any time a woman receives a letter in Kenya, she gets a chance to read and every time she replies to her rafiki, she gets a chance to write.
But within the same session, the rafikis write letters through the whole week about health, business which they share within in the same sessions. So we are transforming households and empowering women so that they are the ones bringing resourceful information into their own households and their communities. Women that have questions that have not been answered by anyone or if they fear going to the doctor with their questions, they can find a space within the Rafiki program to come and ask those questions. The women use the same information for themselves and for their children, going back with the solutions they have received in the rafiki session and putting them into use. They realized this is important together with the literacy program, as they can even read their prescriptions and ask their doctors about them, and are able to use the same information and package it into booklets which they share with the rest of the community and different villages in Kenya.