Newsletter: Issue 1
An interview with the SMP's Charlie Agger
Charlie Ager’s, of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership (SMP) has had a long personal and professional relationship with Malawi, a country in which she lived for number years in her youth while her father lectured at Chancellor College in Zomba. From volunteering in her gap year to accompanying a Scottish Parliamentary delegation, and researching as part of her MSc in International Development, Charlie has been involved across the entire spectrum of international development in a country she feels a deep affinity for.
Her current role in the SMP as Members’ Services Officer sees her involved in the circulation of up-to-date Malawi-related information and best practice guides, hosting forums and events that will add value to Members’ work and providing any training as requested by the SMP membership. Her task is to enable Scottish organizations and individuals to coordinate for the benefit of both nations.
I caught up with Charlie in the run up to the SMP’s ‘Yewo’ event, a celebration of youth links between Malawi and Scotland and asked her a few questions...
‘Yewo! A Celebration of Scotland-Malawi Youth Links’ is coming up on 7 November: what can we expect from this event?
On 7th November from 6-8pm at the Scottish Parliament the SMP will host its “Yewo: A Celebration of Scotland-Malawi Youth Links” event. The event has two main aims: firstly, it is an opportunity to promote the new youth membership category for the SMP; and secondly, it aims to raise awareness of the youth-led links which exist between Scotland and Malawi and enable networking between the different partnerships. Maureen Watt MSP is hosting the event and will speak about the importance of youth-links in the partnership between Scotland and Malawi. We will also have input from the Malawian Youth Parliament regarding the role that the youth can play in strengthening links between the two countries. There will also be a panel discussion of youth people who are actively engaged in the partnership between Scotland and Malawi, and we delighted that Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for External Affairs and International Development will also be sharing his passion for young people participating in international development. It should be a great event!
How important do you feel it is to have a focus on international development and cultural exchange in education?
In April 2012 the SMP, along with a number of other Scottish NGO’s, hosted an event called “Education and International Development: an exploration of good practice.” As the findings of the event demonstrated global citizenship is core to a young person’s development and therefore should be given priority and attention across all aspects of learning. In particular active school partnerships with schools abroad improve the quality of education to the benefit of both schools, and the wider community. At the SMP therefore we see a focus on international linking and global citizenship of great value to young people here in Scotland, and strengthening their link with Malawi.
How did your relationship with Student Volunteers Abroad begin? How has this relationship developed over the years?
SVA has been a member of the SMP for a number of years however the relationship has strengthened in the last year. In November 2011 the SMP set up a Youth Steering Group, representing a range of youth links between Scotland and Malawi. The YSG had been the lead consultant in advising on the development and execution of the strategy and associated services, supported by the SMP office, board and school forum. SVA has been an active member of the group and has played an instrumental role in representing the voice of students as we design and implement our services for young people.
What opportunities can SMP offer our volunteers after they have graduated?
We’d be delighted to welcome SVA volunteers as members of the SMP. The Partnership provides our members a forum where ideas, activities and information can be shared on our website, through its online mapping tool, and through regular forums, training events and stakeholder meetings. We also publish good practice guides to harness the expertise of our members on key issues such as school partnerships, volunteering in Malawi and shipping goods to Malawi. The Partnership has over 500 member organisations and individuals, all of whom have their own Malawi work/connections. In September this year our membership created a new Youth Membership category for 14-24 year olds-and it’s free to join. By being a member of the SMP we hope to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones. We’re very much member-led so if you have ideas about how we can support our membership better we’re always up for hearing about it!
In April 2014 the Scotland-Malawi Partnership will be 10 years old. What do you think are the greatest achievements of the past 10 years and what is your vision for the next 10?
As we draw closer to our 10 year anniversary in 2014 we hope to consolidate our core operation and the significant advances made in our first seven years; inspire different people and organisations around Scotland to become meaningfully engaged with counterparts in Malawi (particularly youth-led links); and partner with other relevant organisations to share experience, work better together, build strategic links, and make better use of resources. We hope we remain an organisation that is relevant and of use to the many civil society organisations around Scotland who are actively engaged with Malawi.
The Scotland Malawi Partnership are always looking for new members, if you have a passion for international development in general or Malawi in particular you can contact Charlie and find out how to be involved at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie Ager talking with Alan Mahon
SVA is a Scottish Registered Charity: No. SC 030081 c/o. University of Glasgow SRC, The John MacIntyre Building, University of Glasgow, GLASGOW, G12 8QQ