While going about his duty as a journalist, Thomas Bwire discovered that children’s voices were muted in their own stories.
To bridge this gap he embarked on a journey to amplify children voices by telling children centered stories in which children share their views and opinions.
To ensure these stories are told effectively ,the co-founder of Habari Kibra says he sought training on children issues to allow him report child centred stories ethically.
‘I got an interest on children storytelling and so I sought training on the same. In 2018 I got a one year media fellowship program with international Centre for Journalists where I learnt through mentorship how to ethically report children stories,’ said Bwire
He said this on Mtoto News B4 18 show .
The following year, determined to put his skills to work, Bwire pitched his story idea to Media Monitoring Africa where he got shortlisted, sending him to the field to find real children issues
It’s while in the field he learnt that children did not take ownership of stories aired in the media about them because only negative stories such as rape and defilement cases were being aired.
It is at this moment that he knew something got to change on how children stories are told.
‘When I was preparing for this project, I went to the field to find out what issues they faced. I came to learn that children feel that only bad stories about them are reported. So I asked them what they would like reported;’ he said
The children gave him a story idea in which they highlighted how lack of proper playground in their area is putting their lives at risk. This story earned him a slot among top six competition finalists.
‘They requested that I do a story about their playground which was sure deployable as it had sewage and trenches putting their lives at risk,’ he said
To be successful in telling children stories, Bwire said, that it is important to have an open mind so as to avoid having a predetermined angle while covering a story.
He said this can only be achieved through commitment to spend time with children even when off duty.
In doing so, he said, a journalist will learn on the pressing issues affecting children, the angle they prefer and how to protect them will covering their stories.
He called upon media entities to create more spaces and airtime for children based stories where the children will determine the angle and participate equally.
Bwire says that his biggest vision for Habari Kibra is to engage and train young people on children storytelling in turn amplifying children voices.
For his continued commitment to amplify children voices, Bwire has been nominated for this year’s Isu Elihle Awards in South Africa for his coverage on abandoned children.
He highlighted the story of a woman who was jailed for not following the legal process in adopting her daughter whom she found abandoned. The story was published in the Nation Newspaper.
Lauding the African Children Summit, which will be held from 10th to 12th April, he said it will provide a good platform for children’s voices to be heard and amplified..