Lavonne's fantastic communications-related work with IOM Ghana
|Lavonne showing off the Sustainable Development Goals|
It’s hard to believe I’ve been with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ghana for nearly six months. Centred in Accra, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the vibe and energy of this thriving city as well as explore the country’s beautiful beaches and some of its hidden gems. Ghana is infectious and the welcoming nature of the people made it instantly feel like home.
A Communications Specialist by trade, I have eight years of progressive communications experience in the international development, higher education and media sectors. Through UNA-Canada's International Development & Diplomacy Internship Programme, I was placed with IOM as an Information Officer in the Communications Unit, providing support to migration-related and child trafficking projects. It is my job to make sure the stories of migrants and refugees in Ghana are heard globally.
Along with daily communications-related tasks, I’ve been heavily involved in two projects. The first is a U.S. State Department-funded Trafficking in Persons (TIP) project, with a focus on the prevention of child trafficking in Ghana. The objective of the project is to train Ghanaian law enforcement officials on investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases, especially involving children. I’m currently developing and implementing a visibility strategy for the project that will be executed over a three-year period.
My second area of focus is on the Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) project. With the increasing number of irregular migrants from West Africa attempting to reach Italy via the Central Mediterranean, my job is to raise awareness to educate potential migrants on the risks and dangers associated with migrating irregularly. The migration crisis continues to greatly affect West Africans and Ghanaians in particular are persuaded to take this dangerous journey as a result of the lack of opportunity in Ghana, with the unemployment rate at nearly 45%. To reach the highly vulnerable population, we go to at-risk communities and conduct outreach and sensitization activities.
Aside from my two primary projects, I provide overarching communications support to the mission. This includes; preparing and editing news releases, briefing notes, backgrounders and feature stories as well as running social media campaigns specific to the Ghana mission and partaking in global IOM and UN social media campaigns. I also maintain a tight relationship with the media to ensure they are kept abreast of all pertinent issues related to migration in Ghana and our events receive favourable coverage.
In 2016, IOM officially joined the UN family as the UN Migration Agency. With this new accolade, 2017 will no doubt be a busy year for the organization and although my remaining time with the mission in Ghana is short, I hope to continue my work advocating for the plight of refugees and migrants.