Popular new Radio Isano makes waves in Rwanda

How one man with a passion for change is educating communities in Rwanda.

By Isaie Kaburabuza
21 February 2019

RUBAVU, Rwanda - Francois “Sano” Niyigena sits in his tiny one room radio studio, headphones around his neck, quickly moving between his laptop and his radio mic.

“When I graduated university, I wanted to do something to help children, young people and women. I did not have a lot of money, but I started my own NGO called ‘Easy and Possible.’”

Sano began his NGO with big aspirations. Since most Rwandan households own a radio, Sano decided that his NGO’s first activity should be to create a radio station, which he now uses to spread positive messages to the community.

Francois “Sano” Niyigena sits in his tiny one room radio studio, headphones around his neck, quickly moving between his laptop and his radio mic.

“It is almost as if the radio station is named after me,” Sano smiles sheepishly. “Radio Isano.”

“We started with messages on hygiene and cleanliness. Our radio studio is in the middle of a busy market, so it is an important topic for this area. We also discuss encouraging children to be leaders, and we even have French and English lessons sometimes.”

With support from UNICEF, Radio Isano now runs regular programmes on Ebola prevention. Based in Rubavu, a border town with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Radio Isano teaches people the signs and symptoms of Ebola to help prevent the disease from crossing Rwanda’s border.

Link to video on it's hosted site.
Nearly 2,000 cases of Ebola have been reported in the eastern Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which lies on the border of northwestern Rwanda. Hundreds of people cross this border each day for trade and business. UNICEF is committed to preventing Ebola from crossing the border into Rwanda, educating people on how to recognise and stop the spread of the disease. Partnering with local radio stations in Rubavu, UNICEF spreads daily messages on Ebola prevention and treatment in crowded markets and bus parks, reaching thousands of Congolese and Rwandans each day.

"Why am I doing this? I want to support vulnerable people in my community."

Francois Niyigena, Founder of Radio Isano

"I started by spreading information, but now I use Radio Isano’s influence to gather small funds and support neighbours in need.”

Sano hopes to expand his station to have nationwide coverage. His NGO, Easy and Possible, has expanded its work in Ebola prevention to include educational and entertaining road shows, and continues to spread Ebola prevention messages through Radio Isano in crowded markets and bus parks.

“My favourite thing is when our audience calls to thank us for what they learned,” Sano says with a grin. “That is how I know I am making a difference.”