Health Care

‘Farms, Fish Banks, and an Iron Roof:’ New Voices Fellows on the Moth Radio Hour

April 23, 2015  • Kathryn Le Dain, Guest Blogger

From left to right: 2014 New Voices Fellows Sisonke Msimang, James Kassaga, Jensi Sartin, and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

How does a food security expert come to terms with her own relationship to food? Can a marine expert bring the fish back to Bali? What’s standing in the way of one man working to build an iron roof for his family? “The Moth Radio Hour” recently featured these stories — as told by Aspen Institute New Voices Fellows — in an hour-long segment called “Farms, Fish Banks, and an Iron Roof.”

From fighting for human rights to saving coral reefs, Aspen Institute New Voices Fellows are an eclectic group of impassioned global development experts working to improve their communities in Africa and other parts of the developing world.

Listen to the full episode above, and read below for short segment recaps and notable quotes.

“Grandma Mahembe’s Farm”

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda is the CEO of the Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and an advocate for food security, agriculture, and nutrition in Zimbabwe and other African countries. Listen to her story, “Grandma Mahembe’s Farm,” about why she gained and lost 80 pounds. 

“There [I was], wanting to represent a continent that is hungry, a continent that needs to increase productivity, and I was representing in my body an overweight person, overfed and just the opposite of what I was standing to advocate for.”

“Dreams of a Young Cow Herder”

James Kassaga works to provide education on leadership development for youth in secondary schools in Uganda. Listen to his story, “Dreams of a Young Cow Herder,” about how he bought an iron roof for his family in rural western Uganda.

“And I said, ‘I am sorry, I won’t play soccer today. I have to cut the grass to replace papa’s roof because you know he’s sick, and I don’t want the rain to fall on him.’ And he turned to me and said, ‘You mean you have to cut grass all the time to replace the roof? Why don’t you guys have an iron roof?’” 

“A Pragmatic Idealist”

Sisonke Msimang is the executive director of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, where she advocates for human rights and democracy. Listen to her story, “A Pragmatic Idealist,” about the lessons she learned from her friend Prudence.

“I wasn’t actually listening. I was kind of listening, but I wasn’t listening enough… And if I was going to make any kind of an impact, and if I was going to be the kind of advocate that I wanted to be, […] what I was going to have to do was listen, not just to the words of people like Prudence, but much more importantly, I needed to listen to the silences.”

“The Fish Bank”

Jensi Sartin is the director of the Reef Check Foundation Indonesia in Bali, where he devises community-based strategies to protect the coral reefs in Indonesia. Listen to his story “The Fish Bank,” about how he tried to bring the fish back to Bali. 

“This is not just about 75 percent of the world’s coral reef going extinct, it’s not just about the fish that will just disappear. This is about people, because there are lots of people that depend on this coral reef. There are a lot of people that depend on the fish and this healthy coral to feed their family.”