Posted on January 17, 2020
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I always remember the first time I began to be afraid of public speaking, it was on my first day at secondary school. There was no reason or rhyme for it, no horrible event had happened, yet the mere thought of a group of people listening to me was terrifying. Suddenly, I was incredibly aware of myself. Before then, taking part in school nativity plays in my primary school, acting or narrating in front of the class, all seemed fine and was like a different world. At secondary school, whenever I had to do a class presentation my heart would sink just from the thought of it. I’d sit and hope the presentation would be cancelled and I’d never have to do it. But, of course, I did have to do it and, yes… I lived. But regardless, public speaking never seemed like my calling.
Fast forward and now I’m an intern working in a Communications role with the African Child Trust (ACT). The purpose of my role is to raise awareness of the work of the charity to the wider public in the UK and worldwide. I send people messages, whether it is digitally or verbally. For me, it’s only by the grace of God that this is now possible. The thought of standing up and commanding a room still terrifies me. But it’s exhilarating and I want to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way.
About a month ago I got an email from the content creator for Woman to Woman, a daily show on Premier Christian Radio, that covers a wide range of topics for Christian women to consider. It said that they would love to have me on the show to talk more about the work of ACT. I knew immediately that I had to say yes. First came the excitement, then fear and finally curiosity. January 14th came and my opportunity began.
As usual, I was about 20 minutes earlier than I needed to be so I get to spend some time admiring my surroundings. The walk to Premier Christianity’s offices from the underground was a pleasant one. The beautiful terraced houses of Pimlico lining the street opposite their building. As I’m sitting and waiting, I hear Maria Rodrigues say on the speakers that are around the office, “Next up we’re going to be hearing from Anna Bennett, a French and Politics graduate from the University of Bath who will tell us about her story and how she ended up working for African Child Trust”.
Yep, that’s me. My heart sinks as I mentally prepare to speak in front of all these people. The adverts start playing and Maria welcomes me in. The music stop and Maria introduces me and starts to chat. My words flow naturally and I stop thinking about the numbers, the audience, and my fear. It becomes fun, a chat with Maria, as I tell her more about my life and my Christian testimony and the work of ACT. You can see the video clip of that here.
We talked about our work, our focus and our mission, the mission to educate disadvantaged vulnerable children, fatherless and orphans, and how we empower needy widows in Africa.
ACT is for those otherwise forgotten
My hope is that I was able to communicate the needs and challenges the children and widows face, sufficiently to cause listeners to consider how they can help to alleviate the poverty and challenges that the children and widows in Africa are facing. I also highlighted the plight of girls, such as Period Poverty.
“Girls are badly affected by inequality. Period poverty is a really big issue. As a result of this bodily function that most women in the world will go through, they are ostracized, they are embarrassed, they are shamed. They don’t have the facilities to change themselves [at school]. They don’t have sanitary pads, their pants get soiled and they’re embarrassed. What they end up doing is just going home and eventually dropping out”.
Our Ulemu project in Malawi is tackling this issue and you can read more about it here. Our hope is that we can overcome the challenges surrounding period poverty to allow girls to unlock their true potential.
Returning to our office in Croydon, I arrived just as a call came through from a listener who asked for a form to sponsor a young girl. She said she was so moved by the programme that she wanted to do her part and help. It was one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced. For me, this single phone call made the time worth it.
Reflecting on all of these, I realised just how so much opportunities I enjoy. Being live on the radio and talking to a huge audience about something I love. It made me realise that there are many people, just like me, who don’t have the same opportunities.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
Find out more about our work and how you can be a part of it. Click here.