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  • Beryl Aidi

Crooked Paths Do Get Straight

Updated: Jan 16


When I started my career working for a faith-based organization, I had no idea that I would land in communications, much less in the human rights space. I was not one of those kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they grew up. As a child, I’d pretend to be teacher or church minister most of the time whenever I played pretend. Discovering things along the way in my career with interesting twists and turns has been rather adventurous.


I went to school with some of the sharpest minds in the country, most of who knew they were going to be doctors, lawyers, engineers or teachers from the very beginning. During the numerous career talks, often the focus was on those professions, as if there was nothing else in the world to do. Occasionally I heard something like home economics, accounts and information sciences (librarianship). Furthermore, I was surrounded by people in those careers- my dad being an engineer, mom starting off as a secretary and winding up in business(the hustling kind), some relatives being doctors, lawyers and even librarians. Shock on me when I arrived at the university only to find there were things like land economics, architecture, building economics, design etc.!


Career quagmire

While I wasn’t interested a Bachelor of Arts, I landed in Anthropology, which had nothing to do with Mathematics, my weakest subject from third grade. I don’t know how I scored As in the subject in primary school because I totally flopped it in every test I took in high school. I had no idea that journalism was a career I might have pursued since I was really good in the arts, especially languages, history, geography and general knowledge. In my defense, when I was growing up, journalism wasn’t what it is today and most of the journalists I knew back then were nothing to write home about.



Photo by Håkon Grimstad on Unsplash

Anyway, Anthropology wasn’t so bad though not many knew it was all about or what job prospects it offered except that an Anthropologist could work in the museum. Some confused it with Archeology. My dad had wanted me to pursue law but since somebody slipped Mathematics in the qualifying combination (previously it was never required) I kissed that dream goodbye and dad felt very disappointed. We agreed that I would do the next best thing with Anthropology and become a scholar, maybe end up as university professor. So when I graduated and went to work for a faith-based organization that did not pay me, instead I had to raise my own financial support through fundraising, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or did it? This was fundraising at a super microlevel, and I wasn’t even good at fundraising at that level.


Thrust into the deep end

But wait, isn’t there a saying that goes, “it doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is where you land”? On day three at work, I was approached by one of my colleagues who handled communications for the organization. She asked me to start working on the newsletter. What?! I was absolutely clueless! Apart from the fact that I used to write great composition pieces in school, primary school to be precise, and was even entered in writing competitions by my teachers, I had no idea why she selected me. As part of fundraising, we were required to write prayer letters to our individual supporters and that is as far as my writing went. Impostor syndrome crept in immediately. There was a soft landing though, she told me just to follow her lead.


I consoled myself that she probably knew what she was doing. After all, previously she had been a communications lecturer at one of the universities famous for their communication programs in the country. Had she told me that she would relocate to another country in just a week I wonder if I would have followed her lead. Relocate she did and there I was, clueless again, not even knowing how to use a computer, much less how to type! Seeing my struggle, the Director’s Personal Assistant came to the rescue. She was a trained secretary and she told me that once I had written down everything that needed to be in the newsletter, she would key it in for me then all I had to do was work on the lay out. She might as well have been speaking Greek to me.


Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Completely ill-prepared, I didn’t have an assigned computer. Laptops were unheard of at the time. Thankfully, some colleagues who had PCs at home allowed me to use their computers and later one colleague let me use an archaic laptop that I’d practice on and type away through the night. A creative director, who I got to know when he volunteered to help redesign some of the communication materials I was working on and from who I learned a lot, once told me the organization could not afford him. In all, my career in communications began as a fluke and developed with the help of many people who helped me along the way as I learned on the job. I owe so much to them as I stand on their shoulders.



Path to impact

Eventually, I went back to school and got a master’s degree in communications studies.

This propelled my career to new levels. Initially I wanted to transition into journalism however I felt drawn towards the non-profit sector working with several non-governmental organizations in public health, human rights, advocacy, development communications and a bit of corporate communications.



I have found working in this profession quite fulfilling as my work impacts people’s lives directly and indirectly. Through my work, from back when I worked in the faith-based organization to date where I am now running my own business, I have seen people’s lives transformed.


Some have come to faith while others have grown through transformative faith I mentored them. In public health, there were people and communities plagued with diseases such as Malaria, HIV/Aids and TB who have transformed their lives by changing their behavior to adopt health seeking behavior and thereby go on to live happy healthy and productive lives and building healthy communities.


I’ve seen state and non-state actors including many repressive governments, and multinationals with poor workers’ rights records, make positive policy and legal changes as a result of the combined efforts of dedicated human rights workers borne out of a cauldron of fervent research, advocacy, campaigning, diplomacy and strategic litigation.


In the end, these efforts have brought positive changes in communities’ and individual’s lives. And this makes me wake up every day with new expectations. I love it when crooked paths straighten.



Path to impact

Eventually, I went back to school and got a master’s degree in communications studies.

This propelled my career to new levels. Initially I wanted to transition into journalism however I felt drawn towards the non-profit sector working with several non-governmental organizations in public health, human rights, advocacy, development communications and a bit of corporate communications.

I have found working in this profession quite fulfilling as my work impacts people’s lives directly and indirectly. Through my work, from back when I worked in the faith-based organization to date where I am now running my own business, I have seen people’s lives transformed.


Some have come to faith while others have grown through transformative faith I mentored them. In public health, there were people and communities plagued with diseases such as Malaria, HIV/Aids and TB who have transformed their lives by changing their behavior to adopt health seeking behavior and thereby go on to live happy healthy and productive lives and building healthy communities.


I’ve seen state and non-state actors including many repressive governments, and multinationals with poor workers’ rights records, make positive policy and legal changes as a result of the combined efforts of dedicated human rights workers borne out of a cauldron of fervent research, advocacy, campaigning, diplomacy and strategic litigation.


In the end, these efforts have brought positive changes in communities’ and individuals' lives. And this makes me wake up every day with new expectations. I love it when crooked paths get straight.

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