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Radio Dramas for Peace in the Sahel

“Rural people don’t have access to many chances in life [and so] these programs allow us to share their problems, successes and needs.”  

Writer and producer Haoua Ahmat Nene from Chad specializes in creating dramatic characters and plot lines that instigate attitudinal and behavior change. She works on Equal Access’ radio dramas that are produced in partnership with local communities across the Sahel.

Haoua is particularly proud of the impact that she had through a storyline she wrote about a young girl forced into early marriage.  By listening to her storyline, a father who was planning on having his daughter married young changed his mind and allowed his daughter to finish school and eventually marry the man of her choice. He contacted the team and told them that they had inspired him. This also inspired Haoua, giving her hope that change is possible through storytelling. Now, Haoua is focused on a new task.

“[Through Dewuram] I hope to contribute to improving the security and conditions of rural people’s lives.”

Dewuram (which means “Crossroads”) is one of two new soap operas launched in four languages in the Sahel and already broadcasting to millions of entranced listeners.  Over the next four years, the two shows will air as part of Voices for Peace in Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and in 2018 Cameroon and Mali. The project aims to use communications and community engagement to support people in their ongoing struggle to stay safe and resilient in the face of unrest from violent attacks.

Here is a snapshot of some of the characters from the new show:

In the fictitious village of Dewuram where raids from extremists and abductions occur regularly, Miskine, a young man is struggling to support his four siblings and mother by working at his aunt’s house. Mamadou, an eighteen-year-old boy living in similar conditions, is only slightly better off.  A repairman by default, Mamadou repairs anything that he can get his hands on – from motorbikes to electrical items – so that he can earn enough to feed his little sister. But it is never enough. When a neighbor, Boukar, tells him that he can make money by delivering suspicious bags to the mayor,  he is hesitant, until Boukar slyly says, “let’s hope your sister does not come to any harm on the way to school.”

Mayors, young men trying to make a living, warm aunts and scholarly sisters – all quite normal parts of everyday life in The Sahel.  Through our edutainment radio series, Equal Access’ local teams are working to show tangible alternatives to support communities in making peaceful decisions.

 

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