Often in my day job, I come across people who are worthy of being written about, their stories shared with as many people as possible. Coming across Eric Agyeman’s press release on the Media Connections website a few months ago, I thought to myself, “Yes, he’s a great subject and I want to write his story.” Unfortunately, the magazine I pitched him to as a subject didn’t get back to me. So I left it for the time being and went overseas to Kenya to visit family.
While on my 5 week trip, an idea began niggling at the back of my mind. I saw the state of the country and cities where my families lived and heard all the horror stories about burglaries, kidnappings, water and electricity problems and corruption. I attended the funeral of an uncle who died as a result of a botched robbery. Somehow people were saying that it was a mistake on the part of the robbers, they didn’t really mean to be rough with him, to gag him so roughly, it was unfortunate that he died while they were robbing the house are the things I heard at the funeral which shocked me.
Every time we go back to Kenya, these themes often crop up in every conversation and there’s a resignation on the part of the speaker and a shrugging of shoulders. “This is Africa” is a saying I hear over and over again as though that explains everything and really one should have low expectations in Africa.
Yes while these horrific things do happen and often to friends and family, I also sensed and saw a resilient spirit in Kenya. At some level, people are good. This goodness has disappeared in the face of so many daily, human struggles. The newspapers and magazines are full of stories about regular people doing extraordinary things, coming up with businesses or ideas that are changing people’s lives.
That got me thinking. Everyone only ever hears the bad parts in the media about Africa, but what about the people who are making a real difference? I got the idea of starting an online magazine that showcased the positive stories of Africans overseas who were active in their community, making a real difference to others.
I was almost sold on this idea when it was time to come back to Sydney and the asylum seekers and refugees issues were hotting up in the media. Negative comments were flying off from the mouths of politicians about how ‘illiterate refugees’ were taking jobs off ordinary Australians and I thought ‘Eureka’ why not change the core of the magazine to focus on immigrant stories and how positively they were contributing to life in Australia?
It was closer to home, a topic I really cared about being a migrant myself who chose to call this great country home and the fact that I was coming across so many migrants who were out in the community doing some great things. So from this, The Newcomer Blog was born.
I’m really taking a punt on this website, hoping there will be many people who will be interested in reading positive stories of immigrants in Australia.
The rhetoric in the media needs to change and it will – one story at a time. This starts with me, it starts with you.