Storytelling – an important skill for our partners

Edrieno Sutarjadi, May 11, 2018

Facilitator: “Why do we write?”

“To tell the stories of others and inspire,” answered a participant during the opening session of the Narrative Writing and Media Outreach training.

I attended a fascinating two-day training that Hivos conducted as part of a project funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. This one-year project entitled ‘Good Governance and Civil Society in Timor-Leste’, ending in July 2018, implements activities of our four local partner organizations in Timor-Leste, but also develops their skills. Narrative writing and media outreach training is one of two capacity building activities Hivos has planned for them.

Why narrative writing and media outreach?

Two words: effective storytelling. Working in a country with a rich (and relatively dark) history, but still unfamiliar to most, our partners have a responsibility as frontrunners to illustrate their work and its great impact on Timor-Leste and its people. An excellent way to do so is through writing. And with the meteoric rise in the use of digital technology and social media, our partners have a large enough platform to share their stories and the positive effect of their work with people all around the world. However, in order to do so, they have to be equipped with the necessary tools and strategies to successfully catch the world’s attention.    

The training

The two-day training, held in Dili, Timor-Leste on 13 and 14 March, was facilitated by Ging Ginanjar, an experienced journalist working at an international broadcasting agency in Indonesia, and Virgilio da Silva Guterres, the president of the Timor-Leste Press Council. Between the two of them, they have almost four decades’ worth of work in the world of journalism and broadcasting. For two days, the participants were given a crash course on writing and the press – with tons of brainstorming, discussions, group exercises, writing assignments – and even role plays of press conferences.

Although the training was given back in March, the facilitators have stayed in touch with the participants via email. Mr. Ginanjar will be back in Timor-Leste in mid-May for the second part of the training, which will focus on rallying multiple local media outlets to support our partners by frequently publishing articles or material about their work.  

Takeaway

I was also impressed by the positive reactions among the participants. After the training, Flora Soriano Menezes from the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) told me, “I am so grateful to have participated in this training as it was really helpful in sharpening my skills, especially my writing. My daily work consists of writing articles to be published in several newspapers, for example. Now, I believe I am able to write more convincingly about the judicial system and the cases we help with on a day to day basis”.

Effective narrative writing and media outreach are essential factors in the success and sustainability of an organisation. With this training, our partners will be able to create stories and perspectives that move audiences and will know who to contact and how in order for these stories to be heard by people around the world.