Airport to airport, it is 7024 km from Tamale, Ghana to Halifax, Nova Scotia. But for Shahadu Abdul Somed, the journey started ain 2005, when he worked with JHR trainer Samantha Mednick, her support and encouragement would change his life.
Back then 23 year-old Somed was learning the ropes of radio journalism at Radio Justice – an upstart, human-rights-focused station in the diverse Ghanaian radio universe.
Somed worked with Mednick at Radio Justice during her six-month placement as a JHR-trainer. “I aroused some kind of curiosity in her,” Somed explained. The two collaborated on Freedom Thursdays, a weekly program focusing on local human rights stories. The program was the first local broadcaster to break stories about the phenomenon of marginalized women being forced into “witch camps.”
With Mednick’s encouragement and assistance, Somed enrolled in the Ghana Institute of Journalism, gaining a diploma of journalism. He next set his sights on Mednick’s alma mater, King’s College in Halifax.
Somed arrived at King’s in September 2011. He is currently in his second year, supported by scholarships and the generous support of TorStar Chairman, John Honderich. “As soon as I meet Somed, I knew I was meeting an exceptional individual with a compelling life story,” Honderich explained. “He is a diligent worker who is determined to return to Ghana and make a difference. I have no doubt he will do just that. Which is why I wanted to help him make this happen.”Somed is a top student and a JHR student chapter member.
When he finishes his studies in Canada, Somed plans to return to Ghana, and to his village. “My village still has no running water, no electricity, and so many abuses are going on. I definitely want to go home.”
As for his views on JHR’s programming in Ghana, Somed says,” Really, I feel that JHR is doing a wonderful job.”