SIGNIS-Africa organised a capacity building workshop for catholic journalists in Uganda
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The vibrant city of Kampala played host to an extraordinary gathering of Catholic media professionals at the SIGNIS Africa Conference for Catholic Media. Organized by SIGNIS Africa in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the conference aimed to empower voices, promote human dignity, justice, and reconciliation through the powerful tools of modern media, all while guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The event commenced with a heartfelt welcome speech by Helen Osman, SIGNIS President. In her speech, she expressed gratitude to the organizers for envisioning and bringing together such a significant congregation of media professionals from across the globe. Peter Monthienvichienchai, SIGNIS Secretary General, intervened at the opening session of a conference on "Effective and Efficient Reporting on Migrants and Refugees".
SIGNIS, as highlighted by Father Walter Ihejirika, president of SIGNIS Africa, holds the mission of transforming cultures in the light of the Gospel. At the core of our mandate lies a two-fold mission. Firstly, to empower women in their roles as communicators, recognizing the importance of amplifying the voices of women in media. Secondly, to focus on nurturing the next generation of Catholic communicators, ensuring a sustainable future for Catholic media. These aspects found representation in the conference theme and were evident in the diverse and enthusiastic presence of young media professionals, especially young female media professionals.
An essential aspect that the conference addressed was the issue of migration and its impact on communities. Helen Osman acknowledged that the majority of people on the move today are young individuals, and the consequences of migration disproportionately affect women and youth seeking opportunities and safety in different regions.
SIGNIS's responsibility as a Catholic media organization goes beyond merely acknowledging this reality. We strive to delve deeper into the implications of such migration patterns on cultures and societies. The experiences of those directly impacted by migration hold the power to tell the most compelling stories. These are the stories of their friends, families, and colleagues – the narratives that deserve to be heard and shared. By giving a voice to those affected by the movement of people, Catholic journalists can humanize the data and images related to migration, painting a more nuanced and empathetic picture.
Mrs. Osman highlighted the urgent need for women to be the storytellers of women's experiences. Drawing parallels to the Blessed Mother Mary's journey as a displaced person, she emphasized the importance of having women journalists share stories that resonate with the unique challenges faced by women on the move. As a mother and a grandmother herself, she deeply empathized with the struggles that mothers and fathers endure while trying to protect their children during migration.
The conference served as a platform to unite SIGNIS members from various parts of the world. It proved to be an inspiring and dynamic event that underscored the importance of storytelling in today's world. As Catholic journalists, it is our challenge and responsibility to bring humanity and understanding to the forefront, painting vivid pictures of the lives of those affected by migration. By doing so, we can bridge the gap between data and emotions, between policies and people. The conference served as a rallying point for media professionals to join hands, embrace diversity, and work collectively towards empowering voices and sharing stories that can truly transform cultures and societies in the light of the Gospel.