Personal sharing of Fr. Ambrose Pereira, SDB
Vice Province of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, 13 August 2020 --
Involving young people
In July 2020, we conducted a Media Education Seminar at the Divine Word University, Madang. At the end of the first day a bright eyed and radiant young 4th year CA student, Bradley Asa approached me and said, “I realized that with time management we could do a lot of things using less time. Normally we would have taken two weeks for a short video clip. We have completed it in just two hours. I am amazed and this has motivated me to raise awareness of the issues in Papua New Guinea and bring about change.”
“It takes a lot of hard work to get one minute of Vision”, said Dorothy Wickham, Director of the only local Television in the Solomon Islands as she spoke to the participants at a seminar in the Solomon Islands. “Discipline, hard work and commitment give one a fine understanding of the Image and the Power of Film”, she said.
Young people need to be challenged, given an opportunity to compete and offered possibilities for excellence. Every production, every task completed gives them a sense of satisfaction and spurs one on with confidence to greater commitment and fidelity.
Media Education and Laudato Si
Keeping in mind the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si and at the invitation of the Holy Father, the Media Seminars of 2020 have had as their theme: Keep it clean! Go Green! Environmentalist, Carol Aigilo, spoke to the participants on the work that she does and encouraged the students to be agents of change on the care for mother nature. “At your age, you have the power and the potential to influence and speak about many issues,” she stated. “The opportunity to learn about the environment and the actual rate at which PNG’s forest is depleting is alarming. I was happy to learn about the vibrant world around us. In addition, we were also encouraged to be environment warriors in our own little way and always remember that our actions have consequences and that they could either affect us or our surroundings.” – Tim Aero, Don Bosco Technical School, Gabutu.
Giving young people a voice gives them the self-confidence to stand up for the issues that they hold dear. “That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2) is the theme of the World Communications Day, celebrated on the 24th May 2020. The Holy Father, Pope Francis reminds us that God has given us life, a gift and a privilege. It is up to us to ‘weave’ a wonderful mystery in the fabric of our society. It reminds them that they need to, “listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si 49), protect the earth and ensure that their children and grandchildren will enjoy the beauty and the natural resources abundantly present in Papua New Guinea.
COVID-19 has affected every industry and its impact is felt in every aspect of our lives. The health crisis has become an economic crisis and it is now turning into a fully blown humanitarian crisis. Amidst the pressures our young people are scared and worried about their future, education, jobs, family and loved ones. Immersed in their digital devices, they are seeking refuge by connecting constantly to news and sites that are drawing them further into depression. Our young people need to be challenged to use their devices for good. Once convinced they can spread positive messages of hope.
Digital Natives with a difference
Our young people, the digital natives have this powerful new technology at their fingertips. They have the great possibility of creating content and reaching wider audiences through the many digital platforms that are constantly evolving. COVID-19 has awoken us to the fact that we need to be connected. With churches, educational institutes and public spaces shut down, we have been blessed with technology that has kept us connected to our people. Young people in the Diocese of Lae have rendered their services to assist at online celebrations.
While young people have the knowledge and the ability to handle technology, it is the elders that need to give them the ethics and the guidelines on the use of technology. They need to be convinced that an overload on the net can affect their interactive and social skills. It’s a difficult task as often we, as adults, do not practice what we preach. Values are caught, not taught.
During this period of lockdown, cybercrime has risen dramatically. Several breaches of security have been reported, with WHO having emails and passwords leaked and scammers channelling funds for COVID-19 solidarity to their advantage. Sadly, cyber bullying has also been on the increase and many innocent young people and others have fallen prey to their attacks.
The participants at the seminars are constantly reminded of the purpose of all media: to inform, to educate and to entertain. ‘To inspire’ is the fourth element that has been included in recent years by the Catholic Church. Producing short video clips or audio tracks, the participants reflect on the messages that emerge through their productions. Through this process the young people are encouraged to reflect on their experience and ensure that every post, comment, image or video has a message that is inspiring.