Sep 10, 2015
By: Yayne Hailu, External Relations Associate
Storytelling is one of those things – often times over looked or underestimated in a world with so many competing priorities. But in reality, we all live life through stories. We, as humans, have come a long way from sharing words around a fire and now we can scroll through our Facebook or Twitter feeds to see what people want to share with us about their lives. All of these forms of storytelling allow us to connect with each other and ourselves.
As an African and a third culture kid growing up between several countries in East, West, and North Africa, and the U.S., I valued storytelling as a way to stay connected to my ever changing environment. For this, I always felt like a writer at heart. I was also surrounded and influenced by those working in “development”. And though I didn’t know the gravity of NTDs until I joined the END Fund or personally experience the negative impact these diseases can have on daily life, deworming was a routine part of my reality growing up. With these two influences in my life, I knew that one day I wanted to use my creativity and storytelling for a purpose – to connect people, to invoke empathy in others and move people towards a cause, to change other peoples lives for the better. This is why I believe the story the END Fund has to tell is unique.
This story is about the communities who live with NTDs and are hopeful their children will know a world where these diseases are no longer obstacles to achieving success in life.
It is about the private sector philanthropists who recognize that knowledge gained from years of doing business can further improve the lives of others.
It is the story of the ministries of health who choose to commit to addressing neglected diseases that get little attention now, but will have a tremendous impact on the populations they serve in the future.
It is the story of local and international organizations that foster the spirit of collaboration because they know that working together is the only way we can make sustainable progress.
The END Fund story is an interconnected web: one of a community of people – donors, scientists, people with NTDs, community health workers, government officials, and many more – who are all a part of this transformative journey and whose individual experiences come together and collectively, tell a one big story…one I believe.
Indeed, it can be a challenge to convey this kind of rich, multi –layered narrative to the world. But this is why I am so proud to share these stories using Ending Neglected Diseases Through 10 Steps. I hope that it will provide an opportunity for viewers to witness the many voices that make up the END Fund through visual and oral storytelling. In seeing that each of us, whether newcomers to NTDs or long-time advocates, has a place in this web, I hope it inspire others to share their experiences and be a part of it too. After all, this is what storytelling is about.