Community Radio of Mossurize is helping children claim their rights
By Marie-Consolée Mukangendo
Mozambique, Manica, Mossurize District, 4 May 2012 - In the Community Radio ‘Chipungumbira’ of Mossurize, radio is changing the lives of local children and community members. Through its regular radio sessions, debates, interviews and fun children’s programmes, the radio is today the main channel used as a medium to claim child rights and denounce cases of violence and abuse.
It’s an early sunny afternoon, in the district of Mossurize. A group of children from the local Child to Child radio programme, are gathered getting geared up to discuss the next issue that they will address in their live programme. The group is a compact mix of 24 young girls and boys (16 boys, 8 girls), who are all trained in radio production and broadcasting.
A lively brainstorming session initiates prior to the live programme. They start by deciding on the format of the programme, how they will conduct the session and the tools they will use as reference during the discussion. To ensure a quality programme, a number of reference materials are consulted to tailor the content of the debate, namely the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Mozambican Children’s Act, and various brochures on prevention of violence. It’s a participatory process and everyone gets to speak and give an opinion. The atmosphere is eclectic as the issue being addressed is a very difficult and sensitive one.
The participants are concerned about harmful practices of the traditional healers in the district. Rising numbers of cases of trafficking of human organs from Mossurize to Zimbabwe and South Africa are terrorising the community. This is particularly affecting girls, as the perpetrators are interested in extracting their genitals and use them for traditional healing purposes.
One young producer explained: “We are frightened especially during the night. That’s when the traditional healers attack. They irrupt in the houses and take away young girls to extirpate their genitals. Then they go and sell them. So during our programmes we are sensitizing the communities to stay vigilant and watch their children”.
Today’s live debate has gathered some community members and the police, to discuss and sensitise children and their families about the recent case of a so-called ‘Maeza’, a local healer ‘currandeiro’ who is terrorising the entire community. So far, the police has been unable to catch him as it appears he always uses his ‘magic powers’ to escape and disappear. The man is accused of removing the genitals of seven ( 7) girls leading to their death. Through the radio programmes children are appealing to the population to help localise the healer who apparently is hiding in Zimbabwe after a recent killing.
The calls for action through the radio are acting as catharsis for the service providers who are now accountable to resolve issues pertaining to the community and children of Mossurize. As the community radio coordinator declared: “if they come to talk to the radio, the authority feels obliged to respond or at least attempt to do something about the case”
The radio has been collaborating with the local authorities, in particular with the police, through the Police Victim support Centre for Children and Women (Gabinete de Atendimento a Crianca), promoting debates and discussions on these cases, and informing about how to prevent them and protect their families from being victims of child trafficking and the trafficking of human organs.
Installed in 2009, with support from UNICEF and as part of the Child Friendly School Initiative, the community radio is a positive gain for Mossurize. Children’s radio programmes are gradually influencing social norms and behaviour change, by promoting and sensitising the community about the rights of the children.
The children’s radio programme of Mossurize has gained notorious popularity amongst children and the community and recently a Community Fun Club was established by the members to support it. As a result, the club today has over 50 members (independently managed by one designated community member) each contributing 50 MT( 1$ and half) to support the running cost of the children’s programme.
Meanwhile, eighteen (18) volunteering ‘radio correspondents” from the local schools and the community, have become watchdogs of child rights in the community and are working actively, reporting important cases to the radio for further dissemination.
Last year, the community radio won a provincial prize outstanding amongst all the community radios of the region for being the best informative programme to tackle issues pertaining to the community and for promoting child rights.
For more information, please contact:
Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: firstname.lastname@example.org