Twelve journalists flew from countries, such as Zimbabwe, China, Sweden, Nigeria, Queens, and more, to take part in a three-day security training in Nairobi before traveling to Tanzania and DRC for the International Women's Media Fellowship (IWMF) program.
To our surprise, we were thrust in to a number of exercises and simulations that included car crashes, terrorist take-overs, and grenade dives that truly tested both our psychological and physical mettle.
And the experience was fascinating.
While I won't pretend to know what it is actually like to be in a hostile environment, the simulations we participated in were too close for comfort.
One simulation that stands out the most involved being ambushed by terrorists.
As "terrorists" jumped from behind trees and pushed us down to the ground before blindfolding all of us, many thoughts ran through my mind: Should I run, do I yell, where are my colleagues...wait, is someone being raped???
While one may wonder why journalists are being given security training at all, the facts remain that with 66 journalists killed, 119 kidnapped, and 853 arrested just in 2014 alone, according to the Poynter Institute, the real question is why aren't more journalists taking up security training?
So what did we learn?
How to dress wounds sustained in attacks, how to properly carry injured civilians and colleagues, how to maintain secure digital correspondences, where to hide when gunfire erupts as well as how to effectively dodge grenades.
Obviously, with militant organizations cropping up around the world and terrorizing civilians -- and let's not forget the haphazard but increasingly more common occurrence of mass shootings -- it dawned on me that civilians need this training too.
Below you will observe some of my experiences around Nairobi, selfies (of course) with fellow journos, and the aforementioned security training that has made me rethink my previously inept concepts of both personal and public safety...as well as my ability to secure my life and other's in the face of very real and present danger.
And my birthday song!!! Double yay!!! (What a surprise!!!)
Wish to meet you again soon, Nairobi...and here I come Dar es Salaam!