From Newsroom to Advocacy – Ugandan Journalist speaks out on closing the information gap on albinism

He quit his job from mainstream media to go undertake his activism work with Pats Journal – The Albinism News Network an online story telling platform where people come to discover, learn and share inspiring stories of persons with albinism and those making a difference around the world.

Here Larubiservices as Director Communications and Head of Strategies besides working as a freelance travel and events photographer, video producer and a disability right activist.

In a one on one interview with the press Larubi shares how and why he became an advocate, what he loves about his new role and what lies ahead of his work.

Can you explain what you do as the Director Communications and Head of Strategies with the journal?

I am responsible for the implementation of communications both internally and externally. managing PR, Content working hand in hand with various program directors and disable person’s organization’s as a consultant in trying to collectively raising voice on issues involving inclusion and diversity especially on albinism through online campaigns.

Ultimately, at Pats Journal, we are working hard to stream our content “messages” by cutting on the noise of negativity to ensuring that weaccurately represent our business’s model, values and objectives”.which I guess since inception last year.

What drives you into this activism work?

I have listen to countless stories of people with albinism and I released I wanted to be a voice for change so I took on my media role in a new twist to stand up for humanity, I was fed up of the sad stories, memories and experience of persons with albinism. I wanted to create awareness on albinism so that the sad stories will not be a repeated episodes cause by ignorance on the condition. Why should any woman and especially one with albinism be raped simply because perpetrators are lost in myth that when you sleep with them you do not contract HIV/AIDs?

Why are people so mad not to differentiate science and fiction? Why should a life be destroyed in the name of riches when those being killed are actually the poor of the poorest? Whatever the case injustice and attacks on person with albinism is an attack on humanity. Its criminal that’s why, I rose up to propagate sustainable development goal 16 calling of peace, justice and strong institutions. Because I know, that there will be no peace if families of people with albinism continue to live in fear for the unknown nor will the community be safe if these criminal cases relating to kidnaps and murder for rituals of PWA are not brought to logical conclusion. 

What do you envision?

You and me need a better world than this especially in this pre-colonial era, ignorance is thing for the past. My work and pleas is actually like a cry. A cry for peace, justice and the urge to see an equal world for all as projected in Sustainable Development Goals 10 for reduce inequality with a focus on removing stigma and promoting peaceful co-existence.

We all need to stand up for human rights and ensure that the prevailing myth and misconceptions on albinism are dealt with once and forever if we are to help the next generation of children and /or youth with albinism live self-fulfilling lives.

What are some activities you have participated in and how they impacted your life?

Field research, sourcing and publishing of real life stories on my blog has been one of the most fulfilling journey in my life. Not all PWA had the tool or space to voice their concern so I decided to take this lonely path to pioneer an initiative that would work as news collectives for persons with albinism and indeed Pats Journal was born. It was aimed at helping create awareness and educating the populace on issues regarding albinism.

For me, it was humanity on the crossroadnot Persons with Albinism and indeed through this initiative I feel like their voice and presence in the media is now being felt since they can now speak up and be hear besides standing up for their rights.

I was honoured to have led a group often youth from Uganda for the first ever Mr and Miss Albinism East Africa beauty contest that brought together 30 contestants from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It was more of a show of ability, creating public awareness across the region and the world on factual aspects of albinism, ending prejudice, social oppression and discrimination against persons with albinism besides exposing the contestants to the vast existing opportunities across the world through this unique space.

International Albinism Awareness day, has been one of the key event in our calendar of activities and as an individual I have been at the forefront of documenting and sharing progress and photos through tweets and live feed broadcast on Facebook showing the progress Uganda is making through SNUPA and AU in a call for a decent world for all.

I have participated in a number of activities but those are some of the most recent and notably ones not forgetting the routine home visit, skin cancer awareness clinics and offering public talks like the latest being to the staff of British Council in Uganda on my engagement on my experience working with and for people with albinism.

How this has impacted my life? I discovered a new and most beautiful world and been able to offer hope and assurance for a better future for me this is priceless because all I get as a price for my service is a smile.

The number of people with albinism seems to be on the rise, what do you think is happening?

There is no substantive statistics on the number of persons with albinism in Uganda but projection however point to about 20,000 people. If this is true then, I would attribute this to the increased level of awareness creation both by organization involved in the case and efforts of the media at large. A couple of people now know that albinism is a genetic condition that is characterized by lack of melanin resulting in ash grey hair, light skin and colour in the eye. Those who did not know it now know and that is how we want to transform one life at a time with our information.

 What have you achieved with your involvement in this project?

Nothing except Knowledge, they say is power yes my understanding on albinism has been further strengthened beyond the ordinary. Scooped an award and several certificates in my journey as an advocate, a fighter and voice of the voices. it’s just the start of a long journey.

What lessons heave your learnt from your experience?

Persons with albinism are not shy and fearful as people think. They are very strong and energetic people who only need space to explore their talent and potential as equal agents of development because all they need is our time, love and attention just like you and me.

Any advice to youth with albinism?

The time is not get out of the shelves and prove your potential, if they cannot see you, prove them out that you are available by showing your abilities beyond the disability.

Anything for our readers? Yes, there is no joy greater than helping lift a soul and/or humanity to greatness, life is only complete if you are able to give back in simple but most definite ways.

What would you like to see in the future for Pats Journal?

Growth!,I want to see the platform grow and continue to change negative narratives on albinism. Building networks and partnership with local and international organizations that are bale to life our information distribution campaigns as we together shine a light on albinism.

I can vividly tell you that, what started as a blogging passion is slowly helping mend hearts, since its launch on 13 June 2018 by the Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, over 100 stories have been shared. The portal continues to be a reference point for news and information on albinism and as a team we are going nowhere except towards success.

Who is Pat Robert Larubi?

I am a Ugandan based independent investigative journalist, special features TV News producer, Lifestyle and travel photographer, blogger and award-winning disability rights activist.

First born in a family of eight children born to Mr. Alex otim, a retired inspector of police and Mrs. Aber Cecilia a business woman all now residing in Kati kati Village Lacor.

He studied in a number of school given the fact that his Dad was always on transit following transfers but Primary schools out, Pat studied from Kabalega Secondary School for his O level, Premier High School Ntinda and Kajjansi Progressive respectively and completed High school from Highland High School-Kisaasi.

He joined, Datamine Technical Business School for a course in Business computing and on completion he moved on and enrolled for a course in journalism and mass communication at UMCAT school of Journalism and mass communication.

Pat is a Tell the story DW Akademie fellow besides other short and long term fellowships he has attended in harnessing his professional journalism career. He comes with years of cross cutting experience in broadcast, print and online reportage, consultancy and training background having also worked as a junior lecturer at UMCAT as assistance ICT lecture while footing his bills to undertake a course in journalism.

While still at UMCAT Pat worked with Mama Fm as an intern at parliament, speak fm in Gulu, NTV correspondent Acholi Sub region and freelancer Monitor. Worked for chimpreports and left for BBS among others where he spent two years but resigned at the end of 2018 to take on his sole journey in advancing space for persons with albinism.

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