Millions of Youth Turn to this Team of Friends
Every week, more than 7.2 million youth in Nepal turn to their best friends on radio, “Saathi Sanga Manka Kura” (Chatting with My Best Friend), making it one of the top five most popular radio programs in the country. This program empowers youth, providing them with crucial information about health, livelihoods, economic opportunities and basic life skills to deal with the difficult issues they face in their daily lives. The young hosts’ frank youth-to-youth on-air discussions about the realities and responsibilities of adolescence help young people to rise above daily conflicts, entangled expectations and peer pressure. Teenage listeners – often with no other sources of reliable information – learn skills for negotiating relationships, continuing their education, HIV/AIDS prevention, STDs, pre-marital pregnancies, trafficking, vocational training, and grappling with issues related to Nepal’s conflict and peace restoration.
Each of the weekly hour-long broadcasts highlights the story of a teen grappling with a particular issue such as gender or caste discrimination, girls’ education, conflict, sexual and reproductive health or careers. Through chatting amongst the hosts, short serial dramas, interviews with experts and discussion regarding the courses of action, listeners gain the knowledge and support to make informed decisions.
The program’s relevance and appeal to youth have spawned a network of more than 1,200 formally organized listener’s clubs throughout the country and each month the program receives more than 5,000 SMS text messages, 1,400 letters and 200 emails from listeners.
Inspired by the radio show, listening clubs also conduct their own activities, such as HIV/AIDS training and prevention, programs on gender discrimination & caste discrimination in collaboration with local health centers and village development committees, exemplifying how Nepali youth are positively changing their behaviors to live healthier and more productive lives. The Indreni Bal Club from eastern Nepal started a campaign where young members start informal conversations in public places like bus stops and public water fountains regarding issues like safe sex and the importance of reproductive health and other topics they learned about from Chatting with My Best Friend. The network of listener clubs has initiated publication on regional bulletins and national level magazines to promote the myriad clubs activities carried out all over the Nepal.
Additional Chatting with My Best Friend facts:
- Regular listeners tend to complete school, are more knowledgeable about HIV and practice less risky behaviors. (Source: Nielsen Nepal)
- Received UNICEF’s 2008 International Children’s Broadcasting Day Award
- Orlando Bloom played a guest role on the award winning episode while visiting Nepal as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
- Regularly cited as the most used, most trusted and best source of information about HIV and sexual and reproductive health in the country (Source: Nepal Health Demographic Survey 2007)
For more information on SSMK and to download or hear radio episodes, please visit Equal Access Nepal’s SSMK page here.
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