Nov 06, 2015
By: James Porter, Associate Director, External Relations
Our daily lives are so full of distractions. Look around you in restaurants, walking down the street, or even in your own living room and you will see people glued to smart phones – checking email, texting, or tweeting – I’ve been guilty of it myself. How often do we turn off the television or put away our smart phone and just be present with the person in front of us and listen? It seems to be harder and harder as we live in a more “always-on” world.
If we don’t take a moment to stop what we are doing and really listen, we might miss the opportunity to learn the stories of those we come in contact with.
The story of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is one that touches a wide variety of people – from recipients of sight-saving surgeries to philanthropists, scientists, advocates, implementing partners, government officials, and pharmaceutical company representatives – to name a few. It is through these collective voices that we see and feel the interconnectivity between us all.
But do we ever really hear their stories in their own words? Going through my day, as I read emails, participate in meetings and phone calls, and answer Skype messages from colleagues, I rarely hear their personal stories of what motivates them, what challenges they’ve overcome, and what they hope for the future. Then again, I don’t always have the opportunity to ask.
This is where the Listening Tour comes in. It was created as a way to begin collecting some of these stories and sharing them to increase dialogue and awareness of NTDs-both inside the current community and to share it more widely with others. It is a starting point for deeper engagement and understanding.
As an introduction and to wet your appetite to listen to more, we would like to share with you a story from Simon Bush, Director of Advocacy and African Alliances at Sightsavers. My colleague Yayne and I had the fortune of speaking with Simon at the recent NTD NGDO Annual Meeting in Abu Dhabi. Listen, as Simon talks about the vital role of communities in the treatment and elimination of NTDs and how important it is to celebrate success on a community level.
Over the next few months, we will be sharing more stories from the Listening Tour, so keep your eyes and ears open. We hope you will welcome the break from your smartphone and be inspired to “meet” and share their stories with others.