Using Digital Technology to Share Stories on Family Planning

Patrick Segawa

Public Health Ambassadors Uganda | Programme Coordinator

This blog post was originally published by Public Health Ambassadors Uganda.

PHAU storytelling workshop participants

Storytelling is a powerful way to share the personal, human stories behind the global family planning movement.

Family Planning Voices is a global storytelling initiative led by the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020). FP Voices provides a platform for people who are passionate about family planning—and whose work or lives are affected by family planning—to tell their stories in their own words.

K4Health and FP2020 believe that storytelling is a powerful way to share the personal, human stories behind the global family planning movement and that giving health organizations around the world the tools they need to tell their own stories fosters knowledge exchange, new connections, and, ultimately, better health. In its first year, FP Voices collected more than 300 stories from 50 countries, and there are so many more stories to tell.

Why tell stories? Research has shown that people remember six times more information if it is shared through a story than if it is shared through data alone. Stories have the power to connect people to each other, to change minds, and to compel people to act. Stories remind us of why we do the work we do: it improves people’s lives.

Elizabeth Futrell from K4Health/FP Voices giving tips on how to conduct a good interview. Credit: PHAU

Elizabeth Futrell from K4Health/FP Voices giving tips on how to conduct a good interview. Credit: PHAU

On 7th November 2016, K4Health, with support from Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU), conducted a storytelling workshop focused on how to use digital technologies to share stories on sexual and reproductive health with a global audience. The workshop was hosted at International Health Sciences University, one of PHAU’s partners.

Selected participants from various youth-led and youth-serving organizations actively took part in the workshop, where Elizabeth Futrell shared tips for conducting good interviews. Participants learned about practical considerations, such as choosing interesting interviewees, preparing good questions, using recording hardware and software, identifying a good interview location, obtaining consent, and having meaningful conversations.

Participants sharing their personal stories during the one-on-one group breakout session. Credit: PHAU

Participants sharing their personal stories during the one-on-one group breakout session. Credit: PHAU

Then David Alexander, a professional photographer, shared tips for taking good photos, focusing on key considerations like location, lighting, image quality, equipment, composition, and perspective. One workshop participant later shared with David, “I like cameras and photography but never knew the magic behind them till today when you shed some light about them that I found interesting.”

At the end of the workshop, select participants won storytelling toolkits. The kits, which included audio and photo equipment, such as reflectors, recorders, flashes, and microphones, will enhance their ability to conduct effective interviews, take quality photos, and share the content in the form of compelling stories related to sexual and reproductive health and family planning.

David Alexander from K4Health/FP Voices giving tips on how to take a good photo. Credit: PHAU

David Alexander from K4Health/FP Voices giving tips on how to take a good photo. Credit: PHAU

One person who attended the workshop shared, “It was such a wonderful workshop that transformed our minds, and we hope for more engagements.”

Participants also received an important homework assignment: Go out and do an interview, take a portrait, and craft one or more stories. Then contribute the stories to Family Planning Voices. Keep an eye out for more Ugandan stories on www.fpvoices.org or by following K4Health (@K4Health) or Family Planning 2020 (@FP2020Global) on Facebook or Twitter!

Some of the participants who received storytelling toolkits after the workshop. Credit: PHAU

Some of the participants who received storytelling toolkits after the workshop. Credit: PHAU

Another participant said of the workshop, “It was really great. Learning never ends, and this workshop is going to help me and my organization pass on more personal stories.”

FP Voices and PHAU know that the learning goes both ways—participants learned some new digital storytelling techniques, and colleagues working in sexual and reproductive health and family planning in Uganda and around the world will now learn from the stories these workshop participants create and share. Thanks to everyone who attended for your tireless work to improve health, one person at a time, and change minds, one story at a time.