As Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am excited by the vital and strategic mandate of Screen Changers – and by the genuine potential to make a tangible difference in the lives of children, women and men in areas of immense volatility and change. With access to media, from satellite dishes to smart phones, now at unprecedented levels across the region, the opportunity for impact is huge.
My links with the Middle East go back to my childhood and living in war-torn Lebanon in the early 1980’s. I vividly recall the power of television to interrupt warring factions as combatants gathered around a black and white set powered by a car battery – to watch the World Cup! Unfortunately the final whistle would send militiamen scuttling back to their positions. Football provided a distraction, but hinted at the potential media has to unite and equip communities facing overwhelming challenge.
A decade later, as I studied Social and Political Sciences in Cambridge, momentous upheavals swept Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. These were the contexts in which I channelled my professional energies as a democratisation and electoral consultant; undertaking projects for a range of international donors within a framework of human rights commitments and international standards. Following a spell in policy with the UK Electoral Commission in Westminster, my focus eventually returned to the Middle East. Several years in Jordan immersed me in the culture of the region once again, and reignited a deep personal commitment to the area and its peoples.
Now based in the UK, I travel frequently to Middle Eastern and North African countries in my advocacy and charity sector work.