RPT supports freelancers with safety and first aid training in Nairobi
A new RPT partnership with VICE NEWS and ACOS Alliance has provided Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) for 14 freelance journalists in East Africa. The four-day course - delivered by Control Risks Group - took place from 18th to 21st of July outside Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
International journalists working in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes face significant challenges and have increasingly become the targets of violence, abduction and smear campaigns. Yet many work on their own without adequate insurance or safety support and have limited access to accessible, affordable safety training.
Our collaboration with VICE, ACOS Alliance and Control Risks Group has enabled freelancers from Kenya, DR Congo, Malawi, South Sudan, West Sudan, Uganda and South Africa to gain the knowledge and skills to deal with conflict situations, emergencies, and traumatic events. They were also taught essential first aid and how to assess potential dangers, including environmental hazards. In addition, participants gained a better understanding of safety equipment, personal security, digital security and kidnap survival.
“This HEFAT course has been a game changer for me”, says Mabvuto Banda, a print freelance journalist from Zambia who works in Southern Africa.“I learned a lot in four days. I now have an idea about which security protocols I need to apply in any given situation, how to react to a hostile incident like kidnapping, civil unrest or terrorist attack [and] how to access my surrounding and be aware of any immediate threats.”
Canadian Sam Mednick, who works as a freelance print journalist in South Sudan, said “the training gave me new knowledge, increased my awareness of my surroundings and made me feel more equipped to deal with situations if they were to arise in the field”.
Participant Harriet Constable - a British freelance print and video journalist based in Nairobi – admitted that working in increasingly hostile situations and dealing with hostile individuals without any proper training made her feel unsafe: “We are frequently placing ourselves in dangerous situations without the support of any organisations or individuals. We need to be trained and prepared to deal with these situations to stay safe and avoid letting something terrible happen”.
Julian Hattem, an American freelancer based in Uganda, said the knowledge he gained from the training helped him feel safer. “In a dangerous situation such as a shooting or violent conflict, the last thing you want to feel is panic. This training helped to ensure I know what to do if a crisis emerged. And freelancers especially need to make sure that they are actively preparing for what to do if someday something goes wrong, since no one else is going to do it for them”, he says.
Ashleigh Hamilton, who travelled to the training from South Africa where she works as a freelance producer and director, says that despite working in the industry for 17 years, often in hostile environments, this is the first time she has ever taken HEFAT training. “I couldn't be more delighted with RPT and the work you do. It's critical and necessary that freelance journalists get support and backup”, she explains. “I see RPT as a place to turn to and a voice for journalists who, often as messengers, don't have a place to go to themselves”.
Through a combination of bursaries and other funding, RPT has enabled 44 freelance journalists to complete safety training in Yemen and Nairobi in July alone.
In addition, our freelance safety surgeries, in partnership with FFR, have provided freelancers with direct access to personalised advice from accredited safety specialists. Read more about it here >