The author narrates a personal journey to participation, through her work with local fisher communities in Tanzania, who were trying to stop dynamite and other illegal fishing methods. The use of video as a medium of communication empowered local villagers, giving them a means to forward their claims directly to those in authority. She describes the experience of lobbying the government at the national level, and how she stepped outside her role of NGO worker to accompany the villagers she had been working with to confront the Prime Minister. This act drew on an awareness that a facilitator is not neutral, and that commitment must be personal and political, not just that of professional duty. However, along the way, her journey has been fraught with personal risks as they confronted powerful local elites and opposed vested interests. She reflects on the need to change attitude and behaviour in institutions, and to put our own interests last, for participation and peoples' empowerment to go beyond rhetoric.
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International Institute for Environment and Development