UCU Partners’ Bartels inspires e-lab program participants
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2021/06/ucu-partners-bartels-inspires-e-lab-program-participants/
By Eriah Lule and Jimmy Siyasa
Donning a baby blue shirt, khaki pants and quasi-safari shoes, Mark Bartels arrived at The Standard community newspaper office just in time for the 10 a.m. visit. Not even a downpour would stand in the way of the May 18 meeting. Bartels, the executive director of Uganda Christian University (UCU) Partners, was scheduled to meet UCU students engaged in the Partners e-lab program that was launched on the UCU Mukono campus in January.
John Semakula, the Partners e-lab communications coordinator, who had arrived with Bartels, ushered him to a round table in the middle of The Standard newsroom. At the table, Semakula and Bartels joined Constantine Odongo, editor of the Partners e-lab pilot and also with New Vision, and Ashton Davey, a Partners fundraising coordinator.
The meeting, which was part of Bartel’s activities during his one-week visit to Uganda in May, started with some of the students sharing their experiences working for the e-lab program.
“I have learned to tell success stories while observing journalistic integrity and ethics,” Jimmy Siyasa, one of the students, said. “While I was taught to do this in my undergraduate studies, I did not practice as much as I’m doing now, ever since I started contributing content for the UCU Partners e-lab blog.” Siyasa has completed his bachelor’s program with the graduation twice canceled due to covid lockdowns.
Grace Bisoke, an international student from the Democratic Republic of Congo, thanked the UCU Partners for being inclusive in its mentorship program.
“I am grateful for the opportunity that you have afforded us, as students, and more so, someone from another country,” she said. “Being part of this mentorship program has enabled me to have the nose for news and also be able to write a story.”
Ivor Sempa asked for logistical support, especially 300mm camera lenses, so that the team is able to produce high quality photos, which will enrich the content on the blog.
Semakula observed that the students on the programme have benefited in terms of skills acquisition and financially.
“Thank you very much for the stipend,” he said. “They afford us our daily bread and enable the students to meet some basic needs, so as to continue working for UCU Partners,” he said. He referred to the stipend that Partners pays to students for their contributions in terms of articles published on the Partners blog and for Internet.
Semakula beseeched Bartels to engage the university top management in order to facilitate the speedy revival of The Standard newspaper. Operations of the university newspaper were halted in March 2020, when the Ugandan government closed education institutions to reduce the rate of the spread of the coronavirus. The institutions were allowed to resume physical classes in March this year, only to be shut again on June 7, 2021 as Uganda imposed new restrictions following a second wave of Covid-19. Recently, the newspaper launched a digital platform. However, the print platform is still in limbo.
“We’ve learnt that you’ve been meeting the Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor,” Semakula said. “Please highlight our plight as a newsroom. We need funding so that we can begin to fully operate.”
Bartels commended the team for performing beyond the organization’s expectations. “You have proved our experiment right. I am grateful for your services,” he said.
“The quality of work coming from the e-lab and the podcast team is really good and I appreciate the thoughtfulness, time and resources that the students are investing,” Bartels continued, reminding the students that telling a story is just as important as the story itself.
Bartels said his meeting with UCU Vice Chancellor, Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, was to get to know him (Vice-Chancellor) and understand his priorities. He also later met with Prof. Monica Chibita, the Dean of the Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication, among other top university officials.
He later visited the UCU School of Medicine in Mengo, Kampala, where he interacted with the Dean of the School, Dr. Gerald Tumusiime.
“Currently, we are working on equipping the School of Medicine to match the standard requirements, in order for it to produce quality graduates,” Bartels said.
Early this year, UCU shared with three hospitals in Uganda a donation of the sh520m (about $141,500) medical equipment that it received from the US. The beneficiary hospitals – Mukono Church of Uganda Hospital, Mukono General Hospital and Mengo Hospital in Kampala – are UCU’s training partners for its medical and dental students.
Partners also has over time given scholarships and tuition top-ups to UCU students.
“We are now planning to support faculties to do community outreaches so as to impact the society,” Bartels added.
Uganda Partners, a nonprofit, based in Pennsylvania USA and in existence for more than two decades, started the e-lab this year to give a resume-building platform to UCU’s journalism and communication students through hands-on experience to supplement their in-class learning. The products benefit Partners by providing information to current and potential contributors to the NGO.
To support Uganda Christian University programs, students, activities and services, go to www.ugandapartners.org and click on the “donate” button, or contact UCU Partners Executive Director, Mark Bartels, at email@example.com
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