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Dorothy’s story: Youth journalist reports on preventing skin diseases in Southern Sudan

© UNICEF-NYHQ/2009/Kavanagh
Dorothy Lurit (right), 15, and another participant, Betty Poni, at the youth radio workshop sponsored by UNICEF Radio, Southern Sudan Radio and UNICEF's ‘Back on Track’ Programme on Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition.

In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children – UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about progress made and challenges that remain. Here is one of those stories.

JUBA, Southern Sudan, 5 August 2009 – After growing up in Uganda as a refugee from Sudan’s internal conflict, Dorothy Lurit, 15, finally returned to Sudan last year and was shocked by the hygiene practices of some of her neighbours.

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"Some of our parents are careless," she says.  "They don't bathe their child. They don't take care of all their children." 

Such practices can have serious consequences. As a result of poor hygiene, skin diseases are rampant throughout Southern Sudan – a problem that Dorothy and her three sisters have avoided through the conscientious behaviours they learned from their mother.

"My mom bathes my sisters at least three times a day to protect them from skin diseases," Dorothy says, adding that her younger sisters love taking their baths because Sudan is so hot.

Juba radio workshop
In June, Dorothy was one of the participants in a week-long radio production workshop for 10 young people from Juba.

UNICEF Radio – in partnership with UNICEF's ‘Back on Track’ Programme on Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition, the UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme and Southern Sudan Radio – conducted the workshop with five boys and five girls chosen from local schools.

The young people learned how to record, edit, write and produce radio reports of their own.

© UNICEF-NYHQ/2009/Kavanagh
Dorothy’s radio piece was about skin diseases in Sudan, and good hygiene practices that can prevent them.

For her story, Dorothy went to the local hospital to visit mothers and their children who suffered from a variety of illnesses. She talked to a mother whose child had a debilitating cough, one whose child had malaria, and another whose child had caught typhoid from drinking dirty water.

"I feel very sorry for what all those mothers said," Dorothy said.

On 16 June, Dorothy's report was broadcast on Southern Sudan Radio to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

Youth perspectives

In the coming months, UNICEF Radio and the Back on Track programme will conduct a series of similar workshops in other countries. Their aim is to bring young people's perspectives into the debate around education in emergencies and post-crisis situations – and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Meanwhile, UNICEF's Southern Sudan Area Programme is working with Southern Sudan Radio to involve the new youth journalists in its programmes, empowering young people by giving them the chance to broadcast their voices throughout the region.




June 2009: Dorothy Lurit, 15, talks about good hygiene.
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