So, today has been a really interesting day for me.
It all started bright and early with a 5:30am phone call. Not knowing why my phone was ringing me out of deep sleep, I just answered it with an ID that read “unknown number” or something like that. On the other end was a lady with a British accent talking about something. So, I got out of bed and headed to the living room to have this weird conversation with this lady. She was actually a reporter with BBC News.
Yesterday, the BBC posted a “Have Your Say” forum on a new legislation that the Malawian government is proposing that would give loans to prostitutes in order to help them start a business and get off the streets. Of course there is plenty of debate about such a legislation. And, because I love Malawi so much, I just chimed in with my 2 cents, left a comment and then kinda forgot about it.
Now… here I am at 5:30 in the morning talking to this lady (who sounds just like the lady that says “BBC newwwws” on the radio … if you’ve ever listened, you would know exactly what I’m talking about) about what my thoughts are on this legislation. Honestly, I was pretty confused as to the reason why she: a) cared so much about this legislation and getting all this info about it; and b) why she cared what a guy in Texas thinks about it.
Turns out, out of the 120+ comments that people made, some people had pinged mine as an opinion they would want to hear more about. The reporter thought that I would offer an interesting perspective since I had lived in Malawi and worked with HIV/AIDS prevention and stuff.
So, she invited me to participate in an hour long live BBC Africa broadcast that started at 10:00am today.
Basically, it was kind of a forum where they start a discussion and then pull people in on the line to give their opinion about it. At the same time, people are e-mailing and texting in thoughts as well. I sat on the phone for quite a while and, based on the people they had on their talking (Malawian Minister of Gender, actual prostitutes, other important people from around the world), I was pretty sure that they probably weren’t going to get to me. But, I listened to this lively debate and had many thoughts throughout the hour.
Then, the guy said, “and now we’re going to go to Ryan in the States and see what he has to say about this. Ryan, do you think that this plan that the Malawian government is proposing is something that will actually work based on your time there?”
I had been practicing my non-Texan accent all morning to prepare for this opportunity… I really didn’t want to sound like a hick on world news! So, I talked really fast (like non-Americans tend to do) and said:
“I feel like we most certainly need to focus legislation on sex workers, but I think that the current proposal is lacking in that it only focuses on monetary things. By simply giving someone a loan, you are failing to address other important factors such as investing in the person spiritually and emotionally. Let’s try to get at the root of this issue and invest in people… invest in education. But, I also want to commend the Malawian government for at least starting down this road and developing progressive legislation that would attempt to tackle this hard issue. I just feel like it needs to be developed more and that the long-term implications need to be considered before this gets implemented. What we need is not a bandaid approach here… their needs to be a more holistic approach that deals with why people have gotten to this point.”
Then he asked me what I did while I was in Malawi, and I told him.
It was pretty short.
I just think it is crazy that I was just on world news talking about something that I honestly don’t have more than a few opinions about (by no means expert opinions).
Who would have thought that my Thursday morning would go this way?
This is the reason I LOVE BBC News!
You can check out the comment discussion here. If you click on “reader’s recommended” tab, my comment in the 8th one down. Unfortunately, I don’t think that they are going to post the audio from it. Oh well…