Relationships built on trust

By Hazeen Latif

Sitting in a “hujra” (a room in the house for meetings and discussions) my host’s uncle asked me, “What is your interest in coming to our village (Swabi, KPK)?”  This question is rarely asked of anyone when it comes to hospitality in KPK region, a province to north of Pakistan.

Before any kind of reply from me, my friend’s (the host) uncle changed the tone and said, “Oh, you must not misunderstand me. It rarely happens that people come to visit us in this hot weather, with no facility of any kind in the village, and having to sit on the ground with us. Please do not take this the wrong way as we are honored by your presence.” This dialogue gave me an opportunity to share how I felt in their midst. It was through my friend that I had been invited to visit the community and asked to help the community become healthy and prosperous. I told them that my visit to the community was the fulfilment of a promise to my friend; no more than that.

In the hujra (house), a council member from government was present who was elected to the union council for that region comprising of eight villages of which one was the village where I was sitting. All the men agreed to develop a CBO (community based organisation) for the villages. They all happily decided on the name which is Khush-hali meaning prosperity. Amazingly, they all agreed on the name. With my guidance, they identified the issues of the community for the first time and even proposed some solutions.  Major issues which came up in our discussion were education for all, but mostly for girls, and health issues as there is only one BHU (basic health unit) operational in the region for over ten thousand adults in the union council. Other issues discussed were youth being neglected, hygiene and poor infrastructure. The men asked me to develop a program and to proceed in developing Khush-hali by establishing a proper legal frame work. The meeting ended with a delicious lunch we all shared by eating from the one dish.     

Call for peacebuilding radio station ahead of Kenya's election

By Jon Hargreaves

With just over four months until Kenya goes to the polls amidst concerns that there will be election-related violence, HCR is exploring the feasibility of a new radio station in eastern Kenya's Tana Delta.   

Last year we partnered with the Sentinel Project to set up a peace centre in the town of Garsen. In this interview, John Green from Una Hakika describes how rumours and misinformation are often a key driver in the conflict between different groups and how a radio station could help build peace in the region. 

Since the nineteenth century, eastern Kenya's Tana River County has often been the scene of violent conflict, largely between two ethnic groups, the dominant Orma, who are nomadic cattle-herders and the Pokomo, who are farmers.   Many of the disputes have been over land use and access to water, however the intensity of these conflicts has increased in recent decades.  This has been fuelled by the easy access of weapons flooding across the nearby border with Somalia, growing poverty, the pressure caused by poorly managed resources and political interference.  Add to that toxic mix, the extremist group Al Shebab, which is trying to destabilise Kenya and Tana River County, is at risk of descending into violent conflict.

In June 2015, HCR, helped a Hola-based community organisation, Kenya Sustainable Health Aid to establish Tana FM which is now on the air supporting the peacebuilding process in the region in the run-up to August's critical election.

Got my confidence back!

On 26th February, Hazeen Latif, Director of HCR in Pakistan visited Charsadda to present a refresher course for a previous radio group who were trained in 2014. The meeting was held at the residence of Asad Ullah, an active community member and a certificate holder of the HCR Radio Skills Training Workshop.

The content of the refresher course covered the strengths and weaknesses of radio, types of microphone, how to use the microphone, and target the audience. The participants found the training valuable, and in the words of Asad Ullah, “this refresher course has helped me get my confidence back in using the microphone and availing myself of every opportunity as host of a program on my local FM station. Thanks so much to HCR for their follow up and support."

           Hazeen as he facilitates the refresher course

           Hazeen as he facilitates the refresher course

Disaster Response Radio TRAINING IN Pakistan

Photo courtesy of First Response Radio

Photo courtesy of First Response Radio

Following the Asia Tsunami and numerous earthquakes in Pakistan, radio broadcasters have come to see the need for a fast, disaster-response radio plan to assist in recovery from a disaster.  Based on these experiences, HCR worked with broadcasters to develop the programme now used by the First Response Radio Network (FRR) which includes training in the needed equipment, a programming system based on the listeners' need for critical information and a workshop to teach radio journalists, relief workers and government personnel how to put these into use in the field.  Since 2007 over 12 workshops have been held across the Philippines, India, Nepal and Indonesia.

In collaboration with First Response Radio, a 5-day workshop and 3-day field trial will be held in Pakistan from 21st to 29th March, 2017.   For more information to be a participant or observer, please contact hazeen@h-c-r.org.

To be heard...

By Annie Sarfraz

Over 40 people participated at a community meeting in the village of Swabi, KPK, Pakistan, organised by HCR in January 2017. The purpose was to help community understand they have the capacity to bring about positive change in their community. Most of the members said they had never attended a meeting where everyone was given an opportunity to introduce themselves. It was important for HCR to ensure participation from all groups of the community. In particular, youth are generally not encourage to be part of any decision making, something that is traditionally left up to the community Elders. However, this was the first time all age groups had come together to discuss community issues, and for many the first time they were heard.

A senior spokesperson from the community endorsed what was said by HCR's Hazeen Latif, "we have to unite and become an agent of change rather than an object to change". At the conclusion of the meeting, Hazeen was thanked by all, "we have never talked in front of so many people, thank you for giving us the opportunity"!