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Children of Togo unite to eradicate polio!

The International Children's Day of Broadcasting offered a unique opportunity to Togolese children to sensitize about polio and behaviors for a healthy life.

Segbé, Togo, 29 February 2009- While 16-year-old Aristos prepares the camera focus, 14-year-old Marie plugs in the microphone and 13-year-old Gisèle conscientiously checks the sound level, Elvis, 11 years old, puts the finishing touches to his introduction.

Despite their young age, these trainee television journalists have the seriousness of veteran reporters and the technical knowledge of professionals. White balancing, cutaways, introductions to the camera hold no secrets for them.

"The International Children’s Day of Broadcasting is the opportunity for us children to broadcast our message of peace to the whole world" declares Elvis as he continues to go over his text.

It is not the first news report for the team. The budding journalists took their first steps in the media world courtesy of the NGO "A nous la planète!" ("The Planet Is Ours"). The organization, created and directed by Charles Adom, has carved out a place for itself in the audiovisual sector in Togo. Since 2004, the Togolese national television channel, TVT, has given them 30 minutes airtime every Sunday. 

"The aim is to give children a space for free expression because not only are children the adults of tomorrow, they are best placed to inform, talk to or convince other children" maintains Charles confidently. Each week, we try to spread a message of peace and sensitize the public on the big problems in Togo, Africa and the rest of the world! For us, the culture of peace is the idea that we must change the mindset of the youngest in order to make way for a better world tomorrow. For example, if today children and young people have been sensitized about polio and how it is spread, and on the best practices and behaviors for a healthy life, we have won the battle!" enthused Charles.

The team from "A nous la planète" has chosen to do a news story on the national polio vaccination campaign for the occasion of the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting. Why? "Because this campaign is being carried out simultaneously in eight neighboring countries. When, in Africa, we tackle our problems together, we have to talk about it. That’s what we want to do with this news report!" explains Elvis.

"We children have to find the solutions!"
With camera in hand and a determined stride, Marie, Gisèle, Aristos and Elvis arrive at Segbé school, in a small village on the border with Ghana about 20 km from Lomé. The young reporters have come to film a sensitization session on polio and the ways of transmission being given by the teacher in the class of 8-9 year olds.

 As the pupils watch in fascination, Marc adjusts the white balance, Gisèle sets up the tripod, Marie checks the sound, and Elvis prepares the questions with the teacher. Everyone seems ready.

"3, 2,1 action!" Aristos calls out. The interview starts (see videos). The team will repeat the process three times to interview a health worker / vaccinator (see video), the president of the Village Development Committee (VDC) (see video), and the Water and Sanitation Specialist from UNICEF (see video).  After one day of intensive filming, the team of trainee journalists is well aware of the challenges of child survival.   

"Polio is a disease that must be eradicated. It shouldn’t still be an issue today!" Exclaims Marie in outrage at the damage that polio can cause. "Each important person in the village must also play a part in the eradication of the disease. If the teacher, the health worker, the president of the VDC and the UNICEF specialist warn and explain the ways polio spreads, it will convince the children and adults firstly to get their child vaccinated during this campaign, and also to wash their hands properly to avoid any contamination" she added, taking off the camera headphones.

Ever enthusiastic, Elvis concludes: "We must find solutions to save more children. And if the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting allows us to convey our message to the whole world, the world is definitely on the right track!"

By Hadrien Bonnaud



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