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Tributes to Panos London

This photograph taken by Panos Pictures photographer, Marc French, in 1991 of a young orphan challenging the media at an election rally in Haiti became a signature image for Panos.

This photograph taken by Panos Pictures photographer, Marc French, in 1991 of a young orphan challenging the media at an election rally in Haiti became a signature image for Panos.

Here is a selection of reflections from former staff members and associates.

Staff

“This has been half my working life. Panos was an essential and path-creating organisation and it will live on in the thinking and work of many people and organisations’ – certainly including mine and the many friends made here.”

Kitty Warnock, Panos staff member, 1990-2011

“An organisation of inspiring people not afraid to challenge, and determined in everything it did: always thinking long-term, always people-focused, committed to communication and the belief that every person has the power to improve their lives. We did it well. We listened and we spoke (and we had fun on the way!).”

Tracey Cabache, Panos London board member and former staff member

“One of the most important memories for me about my many years at Panos was the opportunity to work with so many inspiring people: from families displaced by mining or dams in Lesotho and India and struggling against the odds to forge new lives, to Peruvian miners battling devastating environmental pollution and Chinese farmers eking a living out of inhospitable mountain slopes.

I have strong memories too of the women we worked with who were coping with the aftermath of armed conflict, now taking on new roles, and finding ways to rebuild their families and break the cycle of violence. The courage, dignity and resilience of so many people who took the time to tell their stories, and the commitment and patience of those in the organisations set up to work with them, was humbling and will long stay with me.  I am grateful to Panos for the chance to see many development issues from a different perspective.”

Olivia Bennett, founder, Panos Oral Testimony Programme

“A few weeks ago, we were able to screen the short film, Under a Different Sky, at an international conference on North Korea and human rights. After the screening, the main contributor to the film also addressed the conference audience. This was a proper ‘Panos moment’ – we brought the voice and firsthand experience of a woman from North Korea to share her experiences and perspectives at an international conference, otherwise brimming with experts, presenting important facts.  I’ve worked at Panos for 14 years and I am grateful and proud that during my last months at Panos London I was able to be involved in this short film project.

Back in 1998 whilst working as a market researcher in Middlesborough (glamorous, I know!), I saw an advert for Oral Testimony Programme Officer at Panos London.  Having recently returned from doing lots of participatory research in Northern Pakistan and being interested in oral history, I knew this was the job for me!  I made it through an interview with three Panos London ‘heavies’ -  Nigel Cross, Kitty Warnock, and Olivia Bennett – and started working with Olivia on the Oral Testimony Programme in January 1999.

Panos London’s commitment to enabling people to speak out for themselves and to amplify their voices, without interpretation or a particular advocacy agenda is what has kept me at Panos London. At Panos I’ve been able to work to a principle I believe in – that the women and men most affected by development issues, are those who need to be listened to; it is their experience, knowledge and perspectives that count, they are the real experts.

The work has been wonderful and difficult, surprising and stimulating, there was never a time when I wanted to be moving on or doing anything else.  Why would I?  I’ve had the privilege to work with so many amazing and kind people during my time here – too many special encounters to mention.  Skilled and supportive colleagues, exceptional staff from partner organisations, talented and thoughtful interviewers from communities, and generous and wise women and men who’ve shared their knowledge, experience and ideas on issues affecting their lives.  We’ve supported each other, learnt from each other and worked to put those who are excluded at the centre of debates.  A very BIG thank you.

Panos London’s oral testimony, and related participatory research and communication activities will continue. I am in the process of establishing a non-profit company to enable this, and am grateful for the support of the Panos network, Panos London Board members and founder of the Oral Testimony Programme, Olivia Bennett, with this venture.  The first major piece of work will be developing improved on-line access to the 1300+ testimonies that Panos and its partners have coordinated, along with updated learning resources on the methodology itself. I hope I can count on those who’ve engaged with and supported Panos’s oral testimony work in the past, to keep in touch with this new venture. Please register your contact details for our mailing list with me at siobhanwarrington@gmail.com

Siobhan Warrington, Panos London Oral Testimony Programme, 1999-2012

“I have fond memories of the madly busy times at the beginning of the 2000s when the editorial team was around 20 people producing Gemini News Service, One World.net, Panos radio, and a range of other publications on a regular basis.”

Nikki van der Gaag, Editorial Director, 2000 -2002

“When we set up Panos South Asia, we felt journalists needed help in reporting on issues like water, HIV/AIDS, gender and conflict with training, background information and access. Through the years, there were more than a thousand South Asian journalists who have benefited from Panos fellowships with I think a lasting impact on their career outlook. If this were a university, we’d have called them Panos alumni and had regular get-togethers. Panos is an example of cost-effective and long-lasting investment in media training.”

Kunda Dixit, founder-director of Panos South Asia

“It was a highly unusual role producing journalists long distance via email and telephone.  Material would arrive in the post on minidiscs and in later years it would be waiting for me on the FTP site, which was all very different to working face to face.   A studio manager called Graham Puddifoot would often put the crucial finishing touches to the packages, carefully mixing and adjusting levels in SADIE.

I would enjoy chatting to journalists in Africa and India about the best way of bringing their pieces alive for the listening through location sound.  I remember producing an A – Z of living with HIV, personal testimonies, a feature about child brides in Malawi, one about the challenges of chicken farming on Tobago in the face of climate change, street traders of Nairobi, one about the dire living conditions in Kibera.

We hoped radio stations would use them as a launch pad for discussions and phone-ins and that through debate some of the situations, so full of human hardship, could start to be improved.  I also think the journalists became more radio savvy about how to approach a story.

There was also a very strong smell of baking wafting through the windows at Panos London, I think some premises below were turning out loaves by the hundred.”

Jenny Bardwell, Radio Producer, Interworld Radio, 2002-2005

“Panos – especially in the early years – prided itself on free thinking. It employed a combination of old-fashioned journalism, observation, research, listening, and hunches to set the development agenda and it was at its most successful when this was nurtured. Many journalists from many countries have told me they cut their teeth as a Panos reporter and they were proud to be associated with it. When I hear that, I also feel proud to have been a part of this.”

Anna Egan, Panos London Editor, 2004-2012

“Panos was really the first place I started my professional career six years ago. I not only gained a foundation, which has allowed me to grow as a professional, but I’ve made some lifelong friends. I thank everyone I ever worked with at Panos, I learned something from every single person.”

Natalie Herzhoff, Programme Officer, Panos Environment Programme, 2006-2010

Here’s a selection of tributes from our partners and associates

“In 2007 Panos sourced funds and worked with us (Andrew Lees Trust) to help extremely poor and marginalised people in southern Madagascar to find their voice. The resulting radio programmes, report, published testimonies and films made some significant impacts.

Two of the films went on to be shown at the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2010 to aid discussion on drought adaptation; the radio work has evolved into a new radio-for-good governance project (Village Voices for Development) led by a Malagasy NGO; some of the published testimonies were included in the IFAD report on poverty 2011, and others about failed compensation processes by a transnational mining corporation in one region influenced a human rights activist to bring the case to an international law firm who in turn represented some 1000 village claimants in a legal challenge to the mining company.

That then catalysed discussions with the mining company that continue to this day and which are designed to improve communications and the relationships at community level. None of that would have been possible without Panos’s skill, experience and dedication. Their going is a great loss to the most marginalised on the planet, who need assistance to find their voice and have it heard, and who grow in number every day.”

Yvonne Orengo, Director, Andrew Lees Trust

“Panos London was in a sense my beginning too as through the Oral Testimony Programme it gave me a chance to chase my dreams! That is something I owe you and David [Page], for having brought us together. I can never forget the day he and I took a walk through Loyola College in Madras, and as we sat down for a quiet breather in the church, he asked me what I would do next, since I was planning to leave INTACH. When I said that if I had my way I would be off to the Himalaya to record the stories that women like Sudesha had told me, he instantly connected me up with Urvashi and you!

The Oral Testimony project gave me my first toehold into rural Garhwal and an intimate insight into mountain village life; also importantly, a hands-on understanding of the environment, an experience that has been life changing for me. It also led to the very successful community radio project in Garhwal, where young people like Uma, Kusum and Devendra still remember you with fondness. And it gave me amazing friends for life!

As the song goes, for many favours granted me I’m grateful through and through! Panos London has done much good in its lifetime, and has earned good karma. It will live again in many forms.”

Indira Ramesh, Partner/Coordinator India Mountain Voices project

“I’ve always admired the way you make your primary material publicly available.”

Andrew Shepherd, Overseas Development Institute

“This is extremely bad news not just for you but for UK oral history where the Panos programme has been so innovative!”

Dr Robert B Perks, Lead Curator, Oral History Director, National Life Stories, British Library

Some of the messages we’ve had from Panos journalists:

-       Armsfree Ajanaku I have great memories from working with Anna Egan, Lilly Peel, Tia Jeewa, David Dahmen, Karin Elfving and all my journalist colleagues. I am inspired by the brand of journalism that you promoted, and would forever remain grateful for the opportunities the project brought my way.

Working to promote others, and to make them better is one of the great virtues of humanity. Going by the impact you made on mine, and the careers of others, I have no doubt in my mind that you have left a positive mark that would be cherished for a lifetime.

-        Stella Paul: It was a privilege to report for @PL. So many memories, met so many great friends! The closure is heartbreaking! they helped so many journalists in developing countries grow!

-        Aunohita Mojumdar: Very sad to hear that but I can well understand the financial issues. Most of the time it is the really worthwhile ventures that face this problem – while mediocrity has a way of flourishing!!! I wish you and colleagues at Panos all the very best for the future

-        Thingnam Anjulika Samom: I am so very saddened by this news. Panos has helped me so much to grow as a journalist and as a person. I am lost for words, really, really sad, but also proud to know you all.

-        Ana Bell: I’m so sorry to hear that. In my opinion, you published some of the best stories on developing countries

-        Audrey Wabwire: Sad! I was hoping to do some work with you next year after our elections! Great work you have been doing though.

Social media

We’ve had some lovely messages from supporters and those who have worked with us, either as Panos London staff or through our projects.

Here’s a selection.

-        That is sad news guys, was a joy working at Panos in 2008 – Henry Makiwa, former intern, now Senior Media Officer at British Red Cross

-        Dang! Loved your work. Twitter follower

-        Jane Martin, former consultant with Panos London.

-        ‘ So sad. Takes the shine off election day.’

-        Simon Davis ‏@ContactSimon

-        This is a real loss in comms 4 dev

-        John McGill ‏@johnfmcg

-        Very sad – end of an era…

-        Chim Fenwick ‏@chimfenwick

that @PanosLondon to close http://panos.org.uk/press-releases/panos-london-to-close-but-the-work-goes-on/ … says so much about the state of the #development industry

-        clare richards ‏@clickclackclare

-        @PanosLondon gutted! ‘Comms at heart of change’ is seminal work. Who will fill void?

-        Dorothea Kleine ‏@dorotheakleine

-        @PanosLondon : thanks for inspirational work on communication for development, voice, #participation. Good to know global network carries on

-        Convergency Partners ‏@convergency_uk

-        Shame that @PanosLondon is closing. My first foray into the world of int dev was as a freelance sub with them a long, long, long time ago!

-        Rowena Harding ‏@rowenanews

-        Gutted to hear about closure of @PanosLondon - their work has been inspiring for media, consumers + communicators around the world :(

-        Satish Jung Shahi ‏@SJShahiz

-        Sad to hear about the closure of @PanosLondon. Wishing best for Panos South Asia, where I worked, to boost its activities in the region.

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Anna Egan

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Dec 20, 2012

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