C4D

Two years of promoting peace

Two years ago a small team from HCR set up a community-centred radio station in the remote town of Garsen in eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, training a team of volunteers from different tribal groups. Ahead of the August 2017 elections, the station was designed to promote peace and social development in an area that had all-too-often experienced violent conflict along ethnic lines.

Today, two years on, Amani FM has become a vibrant part of the community and a powerful voice for peace, as was seen this week as young people came out to celebrate in a number of “Peace Caravan” road shows around the county, culminating in a football tournament.

Crowds gather to watch the Amani FM Road Show,  Amani Ni Mimi , or Peace Starts with Me

Crowds gather to watch the Amani FM Road Show, Amani Ni Mimi, or Peace Starts with Me

Hundreds of people turned up during the week to watch short peace plays and hear local leaders calling the community to reject violence and work together. Under the theme Amani Ni Mimi, or ‘peace starts with me’, community members shared their stories of the pain they experienced during communal conflict, saying that it must not happen again.

“Amani FM has shown us a good example of how to make Tana River a peaceful county,” said one community leader, “

The Amani FM birthday celebrations culminated in a football match between the community and the Rapid Deployment Unit of the police force in a demonstration that together the people of Tana River can live in harmony, stand against ethnic violence and eliminate extremism to make the County a great place to live.

Well done team Amani FM - we’re proud to be associated with you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Members of the Rapid Deployment Unit lift the trophy for the  Amani Ni Mimi  community football match

Members of the Rapid Deployment Unit lift the trophy for the Amani Ni Mimi community football match

Then: August 2017 and the Amani FM tower nears completion under sunny east African skies

Then: August 2017 and the Amani FM tower nears completion under sunny east African skies

Then: July 2017 at the end of the first Amani FM workshop ahead of the elections

Then: July 2017 at the end of the first Amani FM workshop ahead of the elections

Creative radio programmes like this one tackle the challenge of extremism and radicalisation of youth

Creative radio programmes like this one tackle the challenge of extremism and radicalisation of youth

Spraying for peace ...

By Johnny Fisher and Hazeen Latif

These community volunteers in Majukay are amazing! Despite the intense summer heat and the fasting period, they got out and sprayed mosquito hotspots in their community to prevent Dengue fever infections.

Has it made a difference? This year we heard people saying, more people are gathering together again in the places where community happens. In previous years there were too many mosquitoes and people avoided their normal meeting places in mosquito season. People meeting together is a big win for peacebuilding and the mosquito numbers are down - that’s a big win in the battle against disease.

Local government funded the spraying activities after hearing HCR Pakistan’s partner Naway Saher (NSCSG) talk about community concerns on local radio.

Teen Pregnancy Campaign Jams Call-in Lines

By Jon Hargreaves

After only one month, the ‘Kickout Teenage Pregnancy” campaign (Piga teke mimba za mapema in Swahili) by HCR partner-station Amani FM in eastern Kenya, has been so successful, the call-in lines are jammed.  The team has been hosting talk shows, call-in programmes and getting out and about in the schools of Tana River County, to promote awareness of underage pregnancy. As Station Manager, Harriet Atyang explains, “We’ve been encouraging girls to follow their dreams and be aware of grooming by predatory men. Tana River County is among the four worst hit counties with this menace and is one of the major reasons it performs so poorly in the national exams,” she added

The station receives more than 300 phone calls per day and more than 200 sms text messages.  “In fact our call lines are getting so congested we are trying to get a third line and another phone to help ease the congestion,” says Harriet.

The station is using the Una Hakika SMS text reporting system, where listeners are given a short code which enables them to seek counselling or report any incidents where they feel threatened or at risk.

Harriet says the campaign is the talk of town and that the response has been overwhelming, hoping it will result in significant change in the community.

HCR is working across Africa and Asia, supporting communities in crisis, through community centred-media. For more information contact hcruk@h-c-r.org

"Only 28 days until the water runs out!"

By Alice Stout

The river bed is drying out.

The river bed is drying out.

Says Patil Ramdas Warde, the leader of a village in Maharashtra. Such is the plight of many tribal communities across the county. The lack of rain has led to major crop failure. Eighty per cent of the rice plantations have failed to yield a harvest. As the Patil – meaning ‘village head’ – shared his worries with us, the need of the Adivasi Village Project became increasingly apparent.

The dichotomy of India

India is the fastest growing economy in the world, yet when we went to pay for our hotel stay in Nashik, reception could not accept an international credit card. We experienced similar problems trying to withdraw cash from ATMs. As I upload this blog using 4G from my mobile hotspot, villages 10 kilometres from here do not have a sustainable water supply. It is such a bizarre phenomenon to be surrounded by all the technology of the modern age yet know basic needs for daily living are lacking around us. But there is an incredible opportunity here for positive social change using media.

HCR is working with Seva Social Welfare Foundation to bring health, education, and social development through the “speaker boxes” project.The speaker-MP3 players, provided to every family in the village, are filled with informative and entertaining programmes to help alleviate the problems that come from dirty water, non-nutritional food, and lack of sanitation healthcare.

“Speaker boxes” making an astonishing impact

It is six months since the "speaker boxes" were first distributed, and already the impact is astonishing.

 “People are changing their habits. There is good hygiene now, people are boiling water, and there are fewer stomach problems than before," says the Patil. He told us that the tribe learned how to construct a dam through the Adivasi Village Project.

“Without your programmes, we would have already run out of water.”

Patil Ramdas also told us that when the monsoon does arrive in June, and the reservoir begins to fill, the first rain collected in the dam makes people very sick. HCR and Seva are now supplying chlorine tablets to prevent cholera and other common diseases after the first rainfall.

But now the urgent need is to find a specialist on-the-ground group to come and aid the village – drilling a well would mean they never run out of water again.

Patil Ramdas is concerned for his community.

Patil Ramdas is concerned for his community.

'I am a resource for peace!'

Day 5 of #16DaysofActivism

By Stephanie Mooney

Radio Amani was launched in the conflict prone area of Tana Delta in the summer of 2017, ahead of the parliamentary elections in Kenya.  The purpose of the radio station is to promote peace and social development in Eastern Kenya’s conflict-affected Tana River (the northern region of Tana River County).

The station is serving a young lady called Busara* and the many women and men like her, survivors of violent conflict. Jon, the Director of HCR, met Busara during a focus group in a remote village. She kept staring at the floor, shy, almost embarrassed to be there. Many of the others in the group engaged in animated conversation, eager to share their experiences and opinions. But then her voice broke through... and the room was silenced. It was a bold, passionate voice, that was determined to speak out. "I am not a victim," she said, "I am a resource for peace!"

Busara shared how she had been a victim of violence during the time of "the massacre." She and her family had been through hell, but now here she sat in a group meeting, courageously willing to speak up. She shared how, with the support of family, community and trauma counselors, she had turned a corner and was now passionate to help others who had been through similar experiences.

In the setting up of this region's first radio station, the overwhelming message was, "this station is desperately needed and will be a vital part of helping the people of Tana Delta recover and rebuild." Dr Tecla, who runs trauma workshops among the communities of the Delta, told me that peacebuilding cannot really start until people have overcome the past, with forgiveness and grace’. Amani (peace) FM is amplifying the voices that need to be heard.

*Not her real name

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Rain can't stop us

By Annie Sarfraz

Community leader: “Sir, you could have cancelled the meeting and stayed home. It’s been raining for the last three days”.

Hazeen: “Rain can’t stop us”!

hazeen with water behind.jpg

HCR has been working in Charsadda village in Pakistan since 2013, using the communication for development approach to help people identify, understand and resolve their health and social development issues and challenges. Many successful community initiatives have come from this approach such as the medical camp, cricket tournament, well water project, and the microenterprise awareness campaign. These have helped the community realise the importance of social capital and the power of people to challenge and change the circumstances of life.

A meeting facilitated by Hazeen Latif was held at a primary school which did not have benches or chairs. Instead, members sat on jute cloth mats. Even with rain and extremely cold weather conditions, members of the community participated and gave their consent to form a Community Based Organisation (CBO). Hazeen asked the group “what do you want your children to become”? One of the members who is a tailor said,”I want my son to become a doctor not less than that”. A fish seller wants all his five children to become educated and never ever sell fish. HCR will continue to work with the group to identify issues and challenges faced by the community, and work with the community to develop ways to overcome these.

Local heros make a difference in Pakistan village

By Hazeen Latif

Sahib Gul may be disabled, but his talent for art and music speaks for itself and he is a person who never gives up.  “My name is Sahib Gul, which means king of the roses,” he told a meeting of the newly established ‘New Dawn Community Services’, a community-based organization (CBO) in a village in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  “I love to sing, it’s my passion,”  he said, as he began to demonstrate his great voice and amazing ability to “beatbox”.  

Sahib Gul is just one of the many community members that has benefited from HCR’s ‘New Dawn’ project, which inspired the local community to register a CBO to help us bring health and development to the village.  “I may be crippled and disabled,” Sahib Gul told me, “but I want to help my community.” 

We have been working in KPK Province since 2014 on a number of projects including micro-enterprise development, a mobile health clinic, radio programming and most recently a new well for clean drinking water.   The well has been so successful that many have stopped going to the local health worker with stomach complaints.  Zahid, who has a clinic nearby, showed me the incoming patients register saying, “Now, fewer patients are coming with gastrointestinal problems.” Sahib Gul has also been feeling much better after using the new bore water.

It’s a privilege to be working in this area, with people who really want to make a difference and take responsibility for their own change.  To me, they are local heroes.  As I met recently with the community for the second monthly meeting to form the CBO, we began to lay plans for next year, to do more to help in the area of health, education and we will be developing FM radio programmes to be a voice for the voiceless.    

Local artist and musician Sahib Gul demonstrates the art of beatboxing

Local artist and musician Sahib Gul demonstrates the art of beatboxing