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Introducing RPT's New Members of the Team

Introducing RPT's New Members of the Team

This Spring the Trust welcomed two members to its Programmes team: Rutendo Chabikwa, who joins as Regional Researcher for Africa, and Nader Elgadi, our new Programme Officer for the Middle East and North Africa.

As part of RPT's programme team, Rutendo and Nader work on getting assistance grants to freelance journalists in Africa or the Middle East who are in a critical situation. This includes freelancers who have been threatened, imprisoned, injured, forced into hiding or exile, or killed.

Both Rutendo and Nader have a freelance background; Rutendo as a writer from Zimbabwe, and Nader as a photographer from Libya. 
 
Rutendo has written for platforms such as The African Exponent, and researched media and political movements in South Africa and Zimbabwe. "Coming from Zimbabwe where press freedom is limited, I know first-hand that imbalanced reportage can have dangerous consequences," Rutendo said. "Freelancers who try to challenge the dominant narrative can face serious risks, but the work they do is invaluable."

Nader previously worked with the Trust on our 2015 UNDEF-funded project in his native Libya. "There is a saying in Libya (and, I believe, globally) that you only appreciate things when you don't have them," he said. "For most of my life, I lived under a tough dictatorship - where everything was controlled and no other voices could be heard. This built my curiosity to seek out any other voices."

Rutendo explained, "I was drawn to the Trust because I've had the privilege of writing outside oppressive contexts and want to support freelance journalists around the world who work independently to investigate the facts behind 'official' accounts."
 
Rutendo Chabikwa, Regional Researcher for Africa

She added, "It is thanks to the courageous work of freelancers that lesser covered issues in Zimbabwe are made known. Most freelance journalists aim to share an impartial view of the world, and Africa is not exempt from that. Yet often freelancing isn't just a case of circumventing a lack of press freedom, but also working in an environment that has no stable economic structures that can support full-time journalism."

Nader began his career as a freelance photographer covering the 2011 uprising in Libya. He founded Martyr Square Media (MSM) that year, and was later awarded a World Press Photo grant. Nader's work has been published in The Sunday Times, Le Monde, Monocle Magazine and Vrij Nederland among others.
 
Nader Elgadi, Programme Officer for MENA

"Independent journalism and freelancing is very new to my country, having been introduced only with the international media’s interest in reporting around the war in 2011," Nader said. "Locals, including myself, were also interested in documenting and sharing events in Libya with the world. As someone who talks a lot, I decided to go with the notion that a picture can tell a thousand words: I started telling our country's stories visually, through photos."

"Now with the digital age many other voices are being heard from all over the Middle East and North Africa," he added, "and it's time to support local freelancers so these 'other' voices will always be there."

Nader first got to know RPT as a beneficiary in 2014. "When my circumstances grew dangerous in Libya, the Trust was there for me and provided the support I needed to stand again," he said. "Now I want to help others to stand again with RPT's support."

Nader joins Maysa Ismael, Assistant Programme Officer for MENA, whose work focuses on Syria.

Rutendo and Nader will also build regional networks and work with local and international partnerships to provide projects, workshops, and training courses tailored specifically to educate and protect freelance journalists in their regions.  
 
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If you're a freelancer who may be eligible for an assistance grant, please contact the Trust at assistance@rorypecktrust.org and your query will be passed onto the relevant programme officer.

Interested in managing fundraising programmes, developing funding partnerships and submitting grant proposals? Apply to be our Development Officer
 

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