Télécoms sans Frontières volunteers’ work disrupted by pandemic
Two young women who have been working for international telecoms charity Télécoms sans Frontières (TSF) found their missions disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both have been working for TSF under a project called Sesame, led by France’s New Aquitaine region. Naomi (pictured in Miarinarivo, Madagascar) and Olive worked on both individual and joint missions.
Naomi supported educational activities for children at the IT Cup and Alabri centres Madagascar, while Olive prepared communications content at TSF headquarters.
They both worked on the development of a digital platform aimed at bringing together the activities offered to young people in Miarinarivo and its colleagues.
Naomi said she appreciated “the teamwork which enabled the exchange of enriching knowledge and skills”, and “the contact with young people and children. I was also able to better understand the challenges of sustainable development and international solidarity as well as the implementation of projects relating to these areas”.
Olive enjoyed her training in video editing and computer graphics, as well as working with communications tools, including social networks.
But both have seen their missions interrupted or greatly affected by the pandemic. Olive, like the rest of TSF’s team, “was able to continue by working from home, but my training was affected by the distance. I had planned to do a correspondence activity with children that could not be done.”
Another project with a volunteer from Madagascar was cancelled. “I regret not having been able to make entertainment sessions for children,” she said.
For Naomi, the situation was even more complicated since her mission was at a standstill and she had to be repatriated early.
“I regret not having been able to complete my stay in Madagascar, and therefore not having had the time to continue and complete certain projects, and to spend other moments with the people I met there.”
But the experience was still a success for both of them, they agreed. It allowed them to gain better self-confidence, and to develop skills, such as open-mindedness, adaptability, communication and interpersonal skills, which will be important for their future projects.
This experience also allowed them to understand the importance of technology in humanitarian aid. Olive was able to “discover that technologies play a very important role in helping the most vulnerable, because they allow them to contact their loved ones, get information, and help them move forward”.
Naomi agrees: “I didn’t necessarily have a great interest in the role of technology in our society and in the world before my experience at TSF,” she said.
“I hadn’t realised the importance of the latter, especially in developing countries. Indeed, access to the internet – and therefore to information and knowledge – is not easy for everyone. I was able to realise its role and that of new technologies in the development of a country and in reducing inequalities.”
Their mission contributed to the IT Cup project in Madagascar. What stands out for them regarding TSF? For Olive, “TSF plays a very important role. Helping people and giving them the means to learn and be informed allows them to move forward and supports their personal development”. Naomi was able to see at the IT Cup centre “activities and projects that have a meaning and a real impact on the life of the beneficiaries”.