Faith to Action Network has just concluded a successful Interfaith Capacity Building Workshop on SRHR, that took place on 6th- 11th October 2014 in Mukono, Uganda.
The workshop brought together participants and facilitators from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Poland, Netherlands, Rwanda, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA).
This six-day; two-phase, 5-trainings-in-one was hailed as the most innovative in approach and programme schedule. The first area of innovation was the bringing together the three target groups. All participants indicated this has never been done before. The second innovation was the scheduling of the programme. It was a two phase of three and two trainings together. The first phase of the trainings covered three days with each morning starting with two plenary sessions on key cross cutting issues. For instance, emerging issues on SRHR globally, presentation of research and existing evidence as well as how to carry out effective and impactful communication. This was followed by three parallel training sessions for the individual target groups, i.e. religious leaders, media and health personnel, where specially tailored materials were presented and much of the work done in working groups. The second phase covered the last three days of the trainings with participants given the choice to join either the resource mobilisation or the advocacy training. In the second phase, issues that arose during the plenary and parallel sessions in the first phase of training were further revisited.
Speaking at the opening of the training, Rev. Stanley Ntagali, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, emphasised the key role that faith and religion l plays in the society and the need for commitment by faith organisations and religious leaders in advocacy and teaching through its structures. He observed that lack of knowledge by young people, women and men; to make informed decisions was a critical issue surrounding sexual reproductive health and rights. He recommended that the training comes up with strategies in which religious leaders should conduct social mobilisation for uptake of reproductive health services. He called on the media personnel to see themselves as development partners and spokespersons for the marginalised while challenging health personnel to reach out those in need of restoration of physical, emotional and mental health.
These sentiments were echoed in the closing remarks by Sheikh Ebrahim Ssali, Secretary General, Union of Muslim Councils of East, Central and Southern Africa. He challenged the various faiths to work together focusing on common areas and not merely the differences for the service to humanity. The diversity in professions, and religious affiliations and cultures enriched the learning process, the group dynamics and the quality of the trainings in general. Please follow the link to access the photos from the training.