By Jon Hargreaves

There is an old proverb that says, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”   At HCR we’ve come to realise that if we really want to help alleviate poverty, we need to go even further - we need to teach people to start “fishing businesses”, so they can feed themselves, their families and their communities, for all time.

To that end, in partnership with Aid For Trade and supported by the Andrews Charitable Trust, we recently launched the YES (Young Entrepreneurs’ Startup) project, in an area of eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, where poverty is widespread.  Using the newly established radio station, Amani FM, the project involves an innovative mix of creative radio programmes, live ‘phone-in discussions, social media interaction and workshops to encourage local people, irrespective of their education, to develop their business ideas and then put them into action.  By the end of the workshops, budding entrepreneurs will be able to develop business plans, the best of which will be eligible for low-interest loans.  As the resulting businesses get going, the radio station will closely follow the development of these enterprises, encouraging new would-be entrepreneurs to have a go.

  Hancy Funana presents "Tuanze Biashara" (we start a business) on Amani FM in Tana River, eastern Kenya

Hancy Funana presents "Tuanze Biashara" (we start a business) on Amani FM in Tana River, eastern Kenya

“We are now up to programme seven on the radio, and beginning to help workshop participants develop their business plans,” says project leader, Philip Amara, adding that already many great business ideas are being generated.   Philip says the radio programmes Tuanze Biashara’, which is Swahili for “We Start a Business”, have been well-received by the community and generated a very lively response across the region.  There is also a very active WhatsApp group with around 45 participants who share ideas, encourage each other and respond to the things they are learning.   “Just today,” says Philip, “a group has announced their plans to set up a modern butchery in the town of Garsen, which is a real need in the area.”  In this region of high unemployment, Philip is confident that the project will stimulate new wealth in the area and begin to break the mindset of poverty and dependency on aid.

  Philip Amara (right) interacts with participants during a workshop to train budding entrepreneurs in Tana River County

Philip Amara (right) interacts with participants during a workshop to train budding entrepreneurs in Tana River County

Although extreme global poverty has been cut by more than half since 1990, sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind with over 40% of people still living in absolute poverty.   Our dream is to extend the YES project to other parts of Kenya and the Swahili-speaking world, to make a sustainable contribution to ending poverty among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, enabling people to enjoy the fullness of life for which they were created.

Wanggamanha (speaking) Wajarri

By Celeste Larkins

Last week we were invited by the Bunidyarra Irra Wangga Language Program to a language workshop in Mullewa (about an hour’s drive east of our base in Geraldton), held at the Mullewa Aboriginal Arts Centre. The language program aims to preserve, revitalise and maintain Aboriginal language and culture. It was a great opportunity to observe the workshop and hear from local Mullewa people, some of which could speak Wajarri (the local language), and others who had not learnt it because of past government policies.

During the workshop, we had the privilege of trying bimba, a traditional bush food, also known as ‘bush lolly’, which you get from going out bush. 

 Celeste enjoying some bimba.

Celeste enjoying some bimba.

To support the work of the Irra Wangga Language Centre, we help the community record their language for broadcast on the local Aboriginal community radio station, Radio MAMA, which we did in Mullewa.

We drove three hours onto Mount Magnet which is Badimaya country (a different language group). There we went to the District High School which started a language program this year in the school teaching both Wajarri and Badimaya. Due to family connections, many students are Yamaji or have Yamaji links (who speak Wajarri), as well as Badimaya. We met teacher Mrs Roslyn Little, who had a kindy (4-year-olds) and Pre-primary (5-year-olds) class while we visited. The students loved their language class, and with the help of their teacher, were able to record some great radio messages using Wajarri words. We aim to go back next school term to do more recordings in Badimaya. Have a listen to the radio messages the students recorded below. 

Standing up against family and domestic violence

By Celeste Larkins

1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their partner in their lifetime (World Health Organisation, 2017).

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience violence at higher rates than non-Indigenous women (Our Watch, 2017).

With family and domestic violence a major issue worldwide, in Australia, and the area we work in the Mid West of Western Australia, we jumped at the chance to help a local women’s health organisation with a community campaign. The local project called Community, Respect and Equality, run by women’s health organisation, Desert Blue Connect, identified local champions in the community who wanted to speak out against family and domestic violence.

We worked with the champions and helped them develop radio messages that were broadcast on local community and commercial radio stations. I also had the privilege of working with one of the champions to record a video for social media (see below).

There is something very powerful when community come together and work towards positive change.

Empowering stories

By Dane Waters

One of the many strengths of community media is being able to record local stories addressing local issues. A great example of this is in Geraldton, Western Australia, with a video project aimed at addressing the stigma of mental health and suicide.

We are helping the Geraldton Suicide Prevention Action Group to share their personal stories about mental health to raise awareness in the region, as well as promoting a big project they are working on (the videos below say it all). By utilising social capital in the community, the story is spreading with more and more people hearing about the project and the reason behind it. As the project continues those involved are gaining confidence in spreading their story, which is empowerment in action.

To follow this journey, check out the Geraldton Suicide Prevention Action Group Facebook page here.

The Power of a Voice

By Celeste Larkins

Jason Bartlett, one of the powerful voices of the Bartlett Brothers (a well-known Indigenous band), a husband and a father of two daughters, sadly passed away in 2017.

I had the privilege of meeting Jason at Royal Perth Hospital, after a local partner organisation, the Western Australia Centre for Rural Health (WACRH), at the request of Jason, asked HCR to produce a film sharing Jason’s story.

His words “There is no future, that’s it, at an early age I’m going, 36 years old and I’m looking down the barrel of a gun,” were a harrowing reminder that Jason only had weeks to live due to complications relating to diabetes.

Jason was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 19, and due to lack of information and mismanagement of the condition his health deteriorated. He lost his vision because of glaucoma, developed foot ulcers that wouldn’t heal and had heart and kidney failure which ultimately led to his death.

Knowing he didn’t have long left to live, Jason wanted to share his story urging Australians to look after their health, especially looking at their alcohol consumption. He stated that if he could go back in time he would “never have touched the bottle (alcohol).”

Jason passed away nine days after the video was filmed, and what happened next is a testament to how powerful one person’s message can be.

Honourable Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, launched the film Passing on Wisdom: Jason’s Diabetes Story at an event on Saturday 9th December, where reporters from various commercial stations were present.

  Left to right: Lenny Papertalk from WACRH, Minister Ken Wyatt and Celeste Larkins

 Left to right: Lenny Papertalk from WACRH, Minister Ken Wyatt and Celeste Larkins

That night, Jason’s story was shared on all the commercial WA state news programs, as well as some at a national level. His story was shared on a few of these commercial stations’ Facebook pages, with over 49 000 views, 470 shares and 440 likes or interactions. ABC Radio National shared Jason’s story, as well as the National Indigenous Radio Services and the Community Radio Network. To make his story more accessible we developed a radio component, which many community stations have broadcast. Jason’s story was published on several news sites.

From what started as a low-key production intending to be shared within Jason’s family and their networks, the film ended up travelling far and wide and reaching more people than anticipated. I even received a phone call from a community station in Yarralin (a small remote Aboriginal community, 705kms from Darwin) thanking me for producing a radio component as it meant their community had access to a powerful message that affects many Indigenous Australians.

Although Jason has passed, his story will remain and hopefully inspire us all to assess our lifestyles and improve our health to live life to the fullest and enjoy time with our loved ones. His story has reached across Australia, and will continue to be a powerful tool to raise awareness about diabetes. The video and radio component would not have been possible without funding from WACRH, support in its launch from Honourable Minister Ken Wyatt, and most importantly support from Jason’s wife and family.

Please help the project by watching the video and sharing it with your friends and family.