So, I knew I had a good story, one with both a personal (Dr Pendsey) and international (convenient UN summit taking place in September on NCDs) context. However, as young journalist, with no real credits to my name, getting funding for the trip was another matter altogether.
I was lucky and extremely grateful to be awarded a grant by One World Media enabling me to complete this project. However in a time of cuts, funding opportunities are few and far between, and I believe that the amount of time and effort I put into my pitch was one of the reasons why I was lucky on this occasion.
I have hosted my original pitch here so that anyone who is thinking of doing the same can see the depth of research I went into, and the planning which was necessary to produce a pitch that was half convincing. MY PITCH
The inspiration for this project began when I was selected as the UK representative in the “Young Reporters Against Poverty” competition. I travelled to Europe with representatives from each EU country and received two days of journalistic training, before attending the European Development Days.
I like to think that things happen for a reason, and although I was pursuing a different topic at the conferences, I had a break in my schedule and decided to attend ‘NCD’s: The Silent Killer’, hosted by the NCD Alliance. I had no idea what an NCD was, or why there was someone dressed as a white elephant in the corner of the room. However the words on the projector struck a chord, “I wish I had AIDS, not diabetes”- the words of a diabetes sufferer in Cameroon. The reason why? There is simply no international aid for insulin, the life-saving drug needed by those suffering from diabetes.
I already knew more than a little about diabetes- my grandfather suffered from Type 2, and my cousin Charlotte (now aged 9) was diagnosed 4 years ago. If diabetes could cause so much heartbreak here in the UK, I could only imagine how hard it must be in the developing world. I had never even thought about the fact it might exist there- or why it was never really talked about.
I found out that diabetes was classified as an ‘NCD’- non-communicable disease- which means it is not infectious, essentially, although it appears that it has literally been non ‘communicable’ in the Western media. Other such conditions include cancer, chronic heart disease and asthma. These conditions can often be managed successfully- however, currently less than 2% of international aid goes towards their treatment. Having been named as not only last year’s second biggest killer but also the second greatest risk to the global economy, I thought this was a great development story.
The next stage when I returned to the UK was finding a way into the story, so I could share it with an audience who perhaps didn’t know as much about diabetes or development. Case studies are often used by charities for this purpose, and after a lot of internet research found my very own case study in Dr Pendsey. Miles away in Nagpur, India, he had set up a clinic for children with diabetes, and with intensive fundraising is providing life-saving care to diabetic children who have no other access to insulin there. I was struck by the honesty of his testimony on his website, as he described the deaths of two young children that had inspired him to begin his work.
I had my story.
I have decided to keep a log of my experience producing The Doctor who Dreamed, not only because with a 30 minute documentary can never tell all of the story, but because I hope it may inspire other young journalists to pursue similar projects.
I plan to detail all the preparations I make for the trip; from how I went about getting funding, to what additional considerations I had to make. There are so many things to remember, even as a tourist, and when travelling as a ‘journalist’ the list just gets longer!
Most of all, by keeping a record of my experiences, I hope to provide another platform by which people might access my work and hear this important story.