You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘staying alive’ category.

The last 10 days has been a nightmare for me that has stressed me out no end and cost me a serious amount of cash! Relocation is an effort. But at least that part is sorted and ‘the patron’ as my car is affectionally known as, has arrived.

That done I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders (until my shipment with the rest of my stuff from London arrives next month!) and I’m back to focussing on the things that make me happy – i.e. my work.

So much is going on, we announced the cast for Shuga: Love, Sex, Money – check it out: http://www.mtvbase.com/news/cast-revealed-for-shuga-love-sex-money

And the shoot is actually starting – two years after the 1st season aired! It’s really exciting. Plus we have two of Africa’s hottest artists making a special appearance – sorry my lips are sealed!

While we’re at it, in Zambia, Media 365 is about to launch an exciting campaign for UNICEF, I’m actually looking forward to it – countdown is T-minus 7 days! Right now a few Zambian celebrities are recording a track specifically for this – in Zambia, we do like campaign songs for everything! But I can’t talk about it until the 15th but since I’ll be crazy busy, you’ll have to wait until the 16th.

I’d like to share more but now I have to go and make sure that the branding will work for the new venue for this launch event while the rest of the team finalise the guestlist. Not to mention I have to supervise another shoot… though my D.O.P is missing in action. Aaaah creatives, they are indeed special people… I just have to find the patience for him today – I guess no one told him I’m not a morning person so better not to annoy me in the morning.

Ok let me focus on the positive stuff for now!

Advertisements

Finally! Well more like finally it’s been announced, it feels like i’ve been working on this project for 2 years – oh wait, i have been! But finally, today Shuga II: Love, Sex, Money was announced at a press conference in Nairobi – gutted I wasn’t there, but I imagine it’s been well received as everyone has been waiting for the second series of the award winning drama series.

I obviously can’t say what’s in this season’s storyline – though the scripts are still being developed, but I can say it will be more explosive than Shuga 1! And it will also be six episodes this year – I can hardly contain my excitement.

Working on Shuga is great because it’s such a needed product. Sure there have been other tv series on HIV, but very few (bar Club Risky Business) have done what Shuga does, which is paint the realistic picture of HIV as it relates to young people, and some of the freaky ish young people are getting up to today. It would be nice to think that young people aren’t having sex – and according to UNAIDS, there really are a quite who aren’t, as they are choosing to wait longer for their sexual debut (yay!!) but there are also a lot who are having sex. And if Kenya’s stats are anything like Zambia’s where only 7% of young people reported using a condom the last time they had sex (shock,horror), then there is clearly still a need for programmes that educate people on HIV.

But I don’t think education is enough, and a colleague (who also happens to be – i would say Pedagogist, but there is no such word – so studies pedagogy?) Dr Jim Lees and I agree on the need to look at the human and/or emotional factors that make people take risks, even in their own lives (this is also the study of my sister’s Phd). And that’s one of the things that i like about Shuga, it gets into the emotions and psyche of the characters and maybe even help us understand why we do certain things. Ok maybe not completely in six episodes but it’s a start.

Keep up to date with all things Shuga on the site and of course you can search for MTV Shuga on Facebook. I’ll keep you updated, when I can. Bring on the premiere on February 14th 2012!

Time is something we never seem to have enough of. Recently I found out that a project that I have been working tirelessly on for the last 12 months is going to miss its deadline because some of the key players have spent time on what the finer points. Today I found out that my key artist for the project is going to be unavailable for the times we currently have to do that part of the project. I’m extremely frustrated that because nothing was done in a timely matter the whole timeline and project has been shot to hell. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

It’s interesting how the private sector works to a deadline but in the public sector the urgency isn’t quite there, it’s a wonder they get results. Luckily in this case because the project is so popular, I don’t think the time shift will be that big a deal, but I do think there’ll be a limitation on the impact.

This is why I’m not such a huge fan of the investment into evaluation. If the evaluation has already shown the success of a project and no additional funding comes for it, what was the point of the half a million dollar evaluation? Might as well have completely put that money into the project implementation.

At the end of the day, I’m just happy that the project is going to happen (fingers crossed, the contract isn’t yet signed). But I’m also looking into the future for the next project, if it takes this long to get it off the ground, better start working on funding for the next phase of the project. Oh wait, won’t they want the evaluation results first?

This is a quick one, but just wanted to say, if you haven’t watched Me, Myself and HIV yet, it’s airing on MTV channels around the world today, so check local listings for times. Otherwise check out the site

Also see our testing diaries, done by celebrities around the world – here is one of my favourites:

Do let me know what you think of it all and join our campaign to get people tested – take the pledge today!

Thanks

You always hear about celebrities having to be responsible role models, but is that fair? If you have a talent and enjoy using that talent to entertain and make a living out of it, is it then fair to pass judgement if you don’t ‘do the right thing’ when it comes to being a role model? After all, does the fine print to celebrity status say that you have to be a positive influence and give back to your community?

This was the predicament I found myself in a couple of weeks ago when two popular, black, personalities refused to take an HIV test to support a testing campaign I’ve been helping on. At first I was really angry. Our community is disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS and they wouldn’t take a test to encourage young black (males) people know their status. Knowing them personally I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to see them and give them my opinion on their action, or lack of.

Once I calmed down, about a week later, I started questioning the responsibilities we place on celebrities to be role models and to promote good behaviour. Is this fair? Because you’re good at singing or acting, does that mean that you also need to be a perfect person, or indeed care about the community you live in, when so many others don’t?

My honest opinion on this is yes, you do. You have been blessed with an ability to reach people in ways no one else can. ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’: where is your true relevance or value on earth if you do nothing more than sing and dance to enrich your personal bank account, and don’t leave the world in a better place than you found it?

I think that we all, celebrities and normal citizens alike, have a role in bettering our community. Call me foolish or naive but I do think that if you do nothing to help the world you live in, then you may as well be irrelevant. And if you think that talking about safe sex and promoting responsible sexual decision-making might negatively impact your reputation then you really are lame. You don’t deserve the platform you’ve been given. So yes, they might never speak to me again, but the next time I do see those two, I will explain how I feel about their decision.

Do look out for our World AIDS Day campaign, and spread the word in your community, taking an HIV test is just the start of taking control of your sexual health.

Peace

With less than two months to go until World AIDS Day, the department has been focussing all our efforts on what is going to be one of our biggest collaborative effort between online and linear TV. It’s always great to have the entire team working towards one goal and getting everyone engaged and on message.

This year is going to be interesting as there’s a lot we haven’t done before, including the TV show, which has taken on a reality style look to it – so it’s going to be exciting.

But I can’t get into it, don’t want to give anything away just yet. Watch this space and I’ll keep you updated.

Oh and I’m no longer on twitter – seems twitter brings way more drama than I ever thought possible 🙂 Oh well, guess you’ll just have to keep up with what’s going on with me here!

I’ll try and not leave it too long for my next post – though I have recurring pharyngitis so have to get lots of rest. I’ll be back real soon though. Until next time – take care of you

I’ve been back in the office for two days and I already feel like another holiday is needed! I have report after report to do and then back to writing funding proposals. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t more to my job? Of course there is, it’s just that time of the year.

Speaking of that time of the year, it is MTV award season. The only real award show I get a tiny little bit involved in is the MAMAs – the MTV Africa Music Awards. Because I work so closely with the Africa team, I nag (they call it nagging it, I call it consistent pressure) them to include more social responsibility stuff in it. To be fair, most of the MTV award shows do, i.e. the Free Your Mind award for the Europe Music Awards – and Africa has something to, I forget what though…

This year the award show will be held in Lagos in December. On one hand I’m excited about this – because I love the Africa award show and the Nigerian music scene is so buzzing at the moment. But on the other hand, it’s Lagos! Hectic.

Still it’s an opportunity not to be missed, so while I’m writing all these reports, I’ll get the chance to brainstorm with the Africa team about how we can incorporate Shuga and/or other Staying Alive messaging into the MAMAs. That will be fun!

Also filming for the Zambia segment of our World AIDS Day programme has been completed. I’m looking forward to seeing what they got as I hear it went really well. I’m very excited about this programme. While it uses a well known MTV format, it’s still a first for us and fingers crossed it will work so hopefully we can turn it into a series. Oh that reminds me, it’s time to start brainstorming what we to mark 30 years of HIV/AIDS next year. Actually scary to think that this virus has been around for pretty much all my life.

Last night I watched this documentary about Zimbabwe’s lost children, it really could have been the story of so many kids in pretty much any country across Africa. Was heartbreaking. HIV/AIDS can be a manageable disease, but only when you’re in the right situation i.e. you can get treatment – including basic medication for opportunistic diseases and other illnesses – you can get proper nutrition, sometimes these kids went without food the whole day – and just decent sanitation.

There’s still so much to be done, and watching that programme really highlighted how HIV/AIDS is not something that can or should be addressed alone. HIV/AIDS exacerbates existing problems, certainly ones dealing with poverty. We have to do more.

Still exhausted from Vienna, I boarded a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa to meet with the MTV Networks Africa team to start talking about Shuga 2 – some meetings you can’t do any other way, but face to face.

The idea was to go through the evaluation and lessons learnt to do even better – hard, but there’s always ways to do better. In true MTV style the meeting was done in less than three hours and we have a plan.

The evaluation results for Shuga were good – really good, actually they were good for all our programmes. So the problem became, how do you top something so good?

The results from the evaluation weren’t enough to answer this question, so we looked at the lessons learnt from the campaign – and boy were there lessons! And then we said if money wasn’t a factor, what would we do?

We had a great conversation about the digital side of it. One of the things that came out strong in the evaluation was the need to integrate social networking and mobile. Dina, the lead evaluation professor from Johns Hopkins threw out the idea of us capitalising on the ‘next’ big thing in technology – I tried not to laugh when Richard said that VOD was the next big thing for the continent. His point was that Africa is moving fast with digital media, but not that fast. What’s big in the west now, can still be adapted and be big for Africa. But realistically, for our audience, what’s bigger than facebook right now?

We discussed the parameters of our work. Dina and the Hopkins team had some great ideas on reaching rural areas, health workers and parents, but that’s not our primary work and I don’t believe we should be doing more than our core competence or we’ll be doing a disservice to our audience, the campaign and even our partners.

After the meeting Chris Torline (my go to man in the team) and I went to catch up and discuss work and life on a rooftop sushi bar in Hyde Park – it really was such a relaxing moment – why don’t I work in Africa, I thought to myself.

But as I boarded the plane back to London, I realised we’d forgotten the biggest part to all of this – what is it that our partners want? What are their objectives? We’re really good at making these programmes, but if our partners and others don’t use them, then what’s the point? There’s only so much a broadcaster can do, the rest is up to the implementing partners on the ground.

While I guess that will be figured out in planning meeting two in Nairobi. Unfortunately, or not, I’ll be sunning myself on a beach in Cancun, followed by some more sun in sin city!

Oh and I’m now on Twitter – finally caved, follow me @cathyphiri

After all of two hours sleep (if that), I landed in Vienna for the International AIDS Conference, where supposedly 25,000 people were going to be attending. Straight from the airport, I changed as I had to meet Bill Roedy, my chief exec to do a formal session on the New Generation Leadership with Michel Sidebe and the Crown Princess of Norway, and a bunch of other leaders, young and old.

He loved it – i was dreaming of my bed the whole time but had to stay. UNAIDS were launching this mentorship hub and programme to support youth leaders with established leaders (whatever that really means). And Bill does have a long history of supporting young people, and more so with the Staying Alive Foundation, so made sense for us to participate.

Luckily enough my dear friend Mark Connolly was also at the meeting, so we hung out and chilled – we got kicked out of the room because we weren’t on the list of established leaders, and i’m guessing I’m too old to pass as a youth leader (though some of the ages of those youth were questionable). By this point, I’m not only exhausted, I’m starving too. Lack of food and sleep deprivation is not a good combination for me, I’m seriously irritated.

By the time we’re invited back for the less formal session, I just want to go home (i.e. the hotel), but Bill wants a debrief, so I have to stay. About 90minutes later as I’m close to the end of my tether, I realise what was also irritating me about the meeting. I wasn’t hearing anything new.

I’ve been a ‘youth’ (love that term) in this field and the things I was hearing in the room was the same things I’ve heard years before – there was nothing new. Young people need to stop thinking that they can’t get anything done without the adult partnership in place – or they’ll be waiting for ever. But more than that, they have to act like young people and not adult clones in the UN system. Being young is what differentiates them from adults – this is their USP. I understand that it helps to talk their language, but if you try to behave like an adult (and i mean this in the HIV field) you won’t get very far, because the real adults have years of experience on you. Besides, why can’t the adults be the ones to adapt to young people’s way of thinking and behaviour?

They complained that they need jobs. Well I’ve seen enough youth consultants who aren’t youth, why not become a youth consultant – like a real life one? Sell your skills that way. And as for the whole money issue? That’s always going to be an issue, we’ve got to figure a way to be creative.

(shrug) I guess i just felt there were more excuses than solutions in that room. Though Paul Farmer did say something that made sense… If only I could remember what it was (it’s been a long week – and it’s only Tuesday).

After that Mark and I went for some Weiner Schnitzel (sp). I loved it! Even though it was deep fried…

That ended around 6pm and I still went on to have more dinner with my colleagues Julie and Siobhan! We got kicked off the terrace of our hotel for making too much noise… aaah that was a nice night.

Sunday was interesting. I had scheduled an hour long meeting between Bill and some young positives representing different parts of the world (strangely enough no one from Africa). My girl Jessica was there and she’s always cool – love her to bits.

Kenneth Cole joined the meeting with his daughter, which was cool. The conversation was really informal and it was just to get some insight into what it means to be young and HIV+ and what we should be doing more of and less of to support them. It was a really interesting conversation, it’s true what Michel Sidebe says, no one will know more about HIV/AIDS than a person living with the virus.

The rest of the team along with two cast members from Shuga arrived that day so the next part of my work began. Promoting Shuga. Because I’m getting tired again, I’ll summarise.

We had a press conference today with Bill, Ambassador Goosby and Jimmy Kolker, with Dr Dina Borzekowski presenting the results from the impact evaluation of the Ignite project. Shuga’s results were extradordinary. 60% of young people in Kenya had seen it! and over 80% of them had had their thinking affected by Shuga, with increased intentions to get tested, decreased intentions to have multiple concurrent partners and increased positive attitudes towards people living with HIV. You can get the full results from the staying alive site. Or i can send you a copy if you want.

So what does this all mean? We’re doing Shuga 2!

Ok I’m off, have to go and organise tonight’s screening and cocktail party. Catch me on twitter, I finally succumbed…. @cathyphiri

A year ago I tried everything to get out of going to the AIDS conference. I’ve been to every AIDS Conference since Durban (2000) bar Bangkok and I’ve just been feeling the AIDS fatigue bug myself. So when it was decided that I was leading our initiatives at this year’s conference in Vienna, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy.

Technically I should have been. I knew before we even saw the results, that we’d be announcing the impact evaluation results from our multi-country study of the Ignite project – which I led – and there was the Viacom initiatives as part of the HIV/AIDS sub-committe that I co-chair, so technically it made sense that I should lead our involvement. I still wasn’t jumping for joy.

The results from our programming are worth going to Vienna for. And in true MTV style we’ve made it a bit of an event (on a budget). Viacom isn’t scaling back either, we’re having our biggest booth, therefore presence, than ever before, and we’re aiming to top our Mexico party (hard to do, but I’m feeling our leadership in action theme). Today I saw the remaining artwork for the signage and I’m actually excited about going to Vienna.

I’m excited because we’re showing that we do care. As a company we could just pay lip-service, but with the presence of the senior executives attending as well as our investment in these events, I think we are saying, we care, we matter, and we want to keep being involved.

And somewhere along the line I hope to learn a lot, but not get information overload. I was actually looking at the new UNAIDS report and was glad to see that it was in an easy to digest format, and with a decent number of pages that didn’t make me have to put aside too much time to go through it. I like the fact that UNAIDS is prioritising youth leadership – as I’ve always had a problem with tokenism but also with youth thinking they’re entitled to Lord knows what – but to have them meaningfully engaged, that’s what matters. As long as they know that they too have to put the work in. Leadership is a huge responsibility. As I say, great leaders are born, but anyone can learn to be a leader, as long as they take up the challenge themselves.

But I’ll also be glad when the conference is over – so I can get some sleep. Going to bed at 2am two nights in a row is no fun. Today, I had to give in and attempt to go to bed early – I should hit my usual 11ish bed time. Though when I get back from Vienna, I’m in London for like two days before I jet off to Joburg for a planning meeting with the base Africa team. Happy days.

Anyway look out for my blogs while in Vienna, I’ll keep you posted.

Advertisements