Carpet talk

Day 8 of #16DaysofActivism

 By Jon Hargreaves

“Gender inequality exists throughout Kenya, but it’s particularly bad in this part of the country,” says Harriet Atyang, the manager of HCR partner station Amani FM in Tana River.   In many situations Harriet says women are subjected to abuse and violence, but it is rarely reported, as it seen as a cultural norm. 

Recounting a story where one young girl was given by her parents to an old man, Harriet said, “A woman is often seen as a man’s property.  Many men see the role of women is purely to give birth and look after the home, but they don’t have a voice and are left out of decision-making.” 

It is for that reason that Amani FM has many programmes to promote change like “Jamvi la mwanamke jasiri”, or ‘Carpet Talk’. The idea is that the carpet is a place where people can sit and feel comfortable and confident to share their concerns.  By airing women’s stories, Amani FM is starting a community conversation and they find that men are engaging positively with the issue too.   With the help of other Non-Government Organisations and counselling services, the station is helping women to find help and making the community aware of their rights. 

“Judging by the number of calls we are getting to the programmes, we are having an effect.  Many are calling in and really opening up with their personal stories,” says Harriet. “It is going to take time, but however long it takes, we are going to keeping working with communities and other stakeholders to bring about the change that is needed.”

Harriet and Esther from Amani FM interview community members.

Harriet and Esther from Amani FM interview community members.

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.


'Who will marry you?'

By Hazeen Latif

Sahib Gul is 25 years of age and has never been able to walk. He uses his arms to go places in the community. The ground is covered with dust, stones, glass and rubbish. Sahib Gul’s hands get dirty, cut and blistered. He never thought he would be respected in the community. Almost every day he hears humiliating remarks from the community, even from relatives. Street kids taunt and tease him about his short stature.

His uncles and parents comment, “Who will marry you, your clothes and hands are always filthy, and how will you stand or walk with your wife”. These words have always echoed in Sahib Gul’s mind, that he is not worthy of a family life.

However, through all this, he has remained hopeful that someday he will hold his head high and have a family. This is what he shared with me when I met him a year ago.

Sahib Gul in 2016

Sahib Gul in 2016

A year on and things have changed. Recently HCR gifted Sahib Gul a wheelchair.

Sahib Gul's response:

‘I am so much more confident sitting in this wheelchair. I feel I have got my own feet I am no longer on the ground. To me it's not a wheelchair but it’s a journey from being dependent to independent. Through this wheelchair I can earn, contribute financially for my family, and will have a beautiful wife of my dreams. Now, no one can say, “who will marry you?”’

Sahib Gul in June 2017, after receiving his wheelchair

Sahib Gul in June 2017, after receiving his wheelchair