“People ask me, you know, and I am not an expert but they trust me because they know that I know somebody who can help them. For me this is amazing”.

by Precious Motha

“We have attended many international conferences but none was as well organised as the ones she organises. Even when you go to Europe, or the USA, there is nothing like her. She is called Motha Precious. A very excellent organisational, coordination, and she will give you all the information you need. Her planning and coordination skills and making sure you feel at home whenever you are in these conferences. She is such a darling. Super organisation” – comment on Precious for a AEN member

Originally a Communications Officer in the legal field and a junior journalist for the Human Sciences Research Council, Precious was encouraged to join the Africa Evidence Network (AEN) by her then manager in 2013. In the five years she has been a member, she has watched the network grow from 400 people to a whopping 3000. Her role has grown along with it from a member to becoming an integral part of the secretariat. As the current Program Officer, Network Relations for the AEN, Precious says she has no regrets about becoming a member. In fact, she believes that; even though she is far from being an expert in the field, she has learnt more about the field and the EIDM because of the exposure that she currently enjoys as a member of the secretariat. In her own words. “I have come to understand the vision and the mission of the EIDM. So I feel like I can contribute more because I have been exposed to so many experts, so much material on the EIDM. Engaging with the work and the challenges encountered. It has helped me to know who is who in the field. But I too have been able to contribute. The AEN has really empowered her to be unafraid to contribute and to talk about the EIDM. She feels that she has really become more confident.

Apart from the AENs impact on her personal and professional life, Precious talks about the sense of community that comes with being a member of the AEN. She alludes too to a sense of satisfaction by being part of an innovative, inspirational and ever expanding network that seeks to serve a goal that embraces social justice. In her words “The AEN has created this community of people that are able to share information, able ask questions, and made space for people to be able to bounce off ideas with each other. It has created a safe space for members to be who they are. If one is in their organisation and they are the only person specialising in the field, one may feel alone and feel like nobody understands. It is also hard to get “buy-in”. However, when you are part of a network of people who are doing the same thing it becomes easier. The AEN supports people so that they are able to reach whatever goals they have set in their particular organisation”.

Although Precious is not the only one who attributes a big part of her self-discovery and confidence professionally to being a member of the AEN secretariat. She is amazed at the number of people who refer to her as somebody they know in the network. She is able to connect with people from different parts of the globe and especially in the African continent. She says “the AEN has helped me create relationships based on trust through these years”. On a personal level she says “I have learnt that I am a creative person. I didn’t know that I have that kind of potential, I am able to come up with ideas even outside the AEN and ACE space.

She says “I have developed a creativity muscle” and this is directly linked to the network. It has not only improved her skill set professionally but in her personal life as well. For instance; “I have not only learnt that I am a speaker by nature, but have also learnt that when you know the content of what you are speaking about it becomes more powerful”. The fact she can actually manage a network is unbelievable for her. She says being a member and a coordinator has given her training in her gifts without her knowledge.

She lists being responsible for driving a conference, being innovative, keeping the AEN members engaged and excited, improving on her communications skills, managing a network, coordinating Africa Evidence week, driving a marketing strategy for the conference and much more. “People ask me, you know, and I am not an expert but they trust me because they know that I know somebody who can help them. For me this is amazing”.

Precious Motha, programme officer at Africa Evidence Network (AEN)
~ Precious Motha, programme officer at Africa Evidence Network (AEN)