This social venture start-up is using stories to create change and alleviate inequality in Africa

A storytelling campaign from Lighthouse Pan-Africa

Ashitha Nayak, the Founder of new-media startup ‘Lighthouse’, began the organisation in 2020 with a vision to share intercultural stories and bring the world closer together. On her journey, she has unified over a hundred storytellers from 20+ countries, via storytelling campaigns, workshops, and other media projects that provide a platform to amplify the world’s most pressing issues via ‘regional chapters’: Pan-Africa, South Asia and Espanol (Chile and surrounding regions), with new avenues to work on a US branch. Today, we take you through Lighthouse’s newest campaign: A storytelling campaign around Justice, Liberty, and Equality in Africa.

Ashitha Nayak

“Since childhood, we’ve heard about ‘Equality of Opportunity as a must-have for global communities to thrive. But what happens when that equality is not a given, as a function of where we are born, our background, race, or gender? Or any other factor that is beyond our control? Equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. With our campaign, we travel across the majestic African subcontinent – one story at a time, we unravel the dire realities of socio-economic, gender, political, social, and other forms of inequality in the lives of the everyday people of Africa. Those of us at Lighthouse might not be experts on the matter. Still, we are allies in this movement, and we want to add our voice to the larger conversation around improving access and levelling the playing field across the globe.”, shares, Ashitha, 26.

Uncover the stories part of ‘Equality for All’ at bit.ly/LighthouseEqualityForAll

Lighthouse storytelling is a non-profit media organization aimed to provide a platform for narratives to grow. Their global community of authors, artists and filmmakers all work towards the goal of promoting inclusivity through storytelling. Through these stories, Lighthouse aims to create diverse, intercultural perspectives which connect the dots across global boundaries. The Melton Foundation, a 501-3C non-profit, is the parent organization of Lighthouse, promoting change in global communities.

Find more about Lighthouse and its campaigns here: https://www.lighthousestories.org

Equality for All: A Pan-Africa campaign

Equality should no doubt be an integral part of the community; whether it is in the social, economic or political sector, each individual should be given the chance to stand on a level playing field and be tested on the basis of their merit. Lighthouse Africa’s new campaign ‘Equality for All’ aims to help raise the voice for a more inclusive and facilitating environment for all people.

With the help of written narratives, podcasts and videos, Lighthouse were able to gather the views and perspectives of the rising youth on the topic of equality. Why is it important? What message do they have for the community and the next generation? Engage with the campaign and find out!

“Equality is a right as well as an expectation for every individual; we are all born equal and should create a society which reflects that inclusive mindset. We hope this campaign is something that resonates with all our audiences.” – Sara Hassan, Head of Campaigns at Lighthouse, shares from Lahore, Pakistan.

In our own communities, the Lighthouse team was observing these unfortunate barriers grow. It was not a surprise, then, that the issue of inequalities was raised and became the focus of the next storytelling project. With our staff hailing from the African subcontinent all the way to South Asia and beyond, the Lighthouse team had our own understanding of inequality in our society. Yet at the core of it, we realized that every protest, every activism movement was just regular people trying to be acknowledged as equal to one another; asking for a simple human right to be given the same opportunities, same values and importance.

Equality is still a working goal in today’s world. The extent of which has spread through our daily lives so thoroughly, at work, at home, in our social circles, that extracting and rising above it seemed unattainable as we worked on this project. We all have faced discrimination, or known someone who has, and yet the conversation has remained in the same loop: ‘they weren’t going to hire someone like me’, ‘I don’t think you should hang out with that group’, ‘they are not like us’. Is keeping an open mind or granting better opportunities for all really difficult? Some would say it is because as humans, we are just selfish and do not want others to succeed over us, or that it is impossible to provide unbiased or impartial outlooks about all things. Reflecting on the universal aspect of equality, we were uncertain about how to best present it to its full credit. This was when we thoroughly brainstormed the project and sought help from our collaborators at the Melton Foundation to take our idea forward, combining research and experience with the media formats at our disposal. We found it fitting to decide on the narratives being from the voices of our generation.

Excerpts from the campaign: Get a sneak peek!

Scaling up women’s empowerment
By: Patrick Mbugua

“Young women in Kenya face several forms of gender-based discrimination and inequality. For Example, Gender gaps in educational enrolment are quite prominent, dropout rates, early marriage, the persistence of unmet needs in reproductive health and family planning services, gender-based violence, food insecurity, unemployment, low standards of living, and lack of market-ready skills, inter alia, shape the life options and well-being of women in both rural and informal urban setups. Yet, the potential contribution of vulnerable and marginalized women to dynamic and inclusive growth and jobs and further our economy remains one of Kenya’s greatest but untapped resources. This has resulted in a depressed, discouraged lot of women, who are easily exploited through poor wages, prostitution, and trafficking.”

Patrick talks about discrimination and inequality of gender in his short essay, noting the main causes and results of these circumstances on the more vulnerable groups. It presents a thought-provoking argument to include the issues of social and economic inequality when tackling women’s empowerment. Read more: https://lighthousestories.org/2022/06/04/scaling-up-womens-empowerment/

Equality for All
By: Raymond Kigai

“In the spirit of our motherland, Africa

Has taught us to always embrace others

As it has always embraced each one of us,

No matter who we are,

Before our beloved motherland, we are

All equal!”

This poem expresses the idea and understanding of the word ‘equality’, its importance in society and how we are all equal only by virtue of our humanness. A powerful message to rally and support equality for all.

Read more: https://lighthousestories.org/2022/06/04/equality-for-all/

Lighthouse’s ‘Equality for All’ campaign is proud to feature such inspiring voices, united for the cause of advocating for justice, liberty and freedom to one day be more than a hopeful dream. Narratives have the power to shape change and in the fight for a fairer world, ‘Equality for All’ should be our common goal to strive towards.

Meet the Team:

Brenda Nyamichaba
Vivian Kagwiria
Patrick Mbugua
Sara Hassan
Raymond Kigai
Christine Lui

From the pilot project of Stories of Kisumu based on true stories from the survivors of gender-based violence to initiatives like Beyond the Borders: Indo-Pak to bridge communities across borders, join Lighthouse in its endeavour to share impactful stories that matter.

Connect with the organization, join their cause, and learn more at https://www.instagram.com/lighthouse.storytelling/

Published by Abiodun Abidoye for Africa Online News, an Alpha Nitrom Digital Media Production. Pretoria, South Africa.

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