Arwen Kidd

Communicating with Communities specialist, UN Refugee Agency

Bachelor of Journalism (Hons.), Journalism and International Development Studies, 2007

I’m still trying to figure out how to do all the things I love at once.

When a humanitarian disaster happens, the people affected need more than just the physical necessities. They need information. Where can they find accommodation? How do they register with the police? When is it safe to return home?

That’s where Arwen Kidd comes in.

She landed in Greece in early January 2016 to take up a six-month contract working with UNCHR, the UN refugee agency, helping to deal with refugees as they arrive from Turkey. As a Communicating with Communities (CWC) specialist, Kidd’s role is to help teams on the ground with whatever communication support they need, from offering specialized training to providing key signs and messaging for the refugees coming in. “I work with UNCHR to figure out how best to meet their information needs,” says Kidd.

Arwen Kidd has never been one to take the easy path. While a student at King’s, she spent a summer in Romania, researching her honours thesis on post-Communist media. A three-month journalism internship chasing stories in Accra, Ghana, gave her a taste of being a working journalist in a foreign country and she definitely wanted more.

“I remember thinking about the vibrancy of life on the street,” she says.

An independent documentary, Freetown: Coming of Age, helped launch a global career. Despite the challenges of finding funding for her projects, Kidd persevered, and her next independent project was about a 17-year-old airport shoeshine boy in Monrovia, Liberia, who loved talking to strangers. Smell No Taste, like Freetown, explores the difficulties of growing up in the wake of a severe conflict.

Now based in Liberia where she makes her home, Kidd is no stranger to travelling and changing roles with each contract, from completing a 10-part film series for UN Women to working as a multi-media trainer for Journalists for Human Rights.

She also continues to carve out time for her own projects and to study for an MA in global media and transnational communications from Goldsmiths, University of London, graduating with distinction in August 2014.

Last autumn Kidd helped document the Ebola outbreak in West Africa through video footage, interviews, and photos for the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs. “The purpose of the project was to look at how the response worked and what lessons were learned,” she says.

“When I was at King’s I knew I wanted to travel and I loved telling stories, and I really enjoy film and photography. I never know what is coming next, but I’m happy to use my skills where they are needed. I’m still trying to figure out how to do all the things I love at once.”

Posted: Apr. 2016

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