Issaka Allafouza talks about realizing his dream of being a radio journalist.
It was my childhood dream to be a journalist. When I was little, I used to love listening to the radio and I was always thinking about how to become a journalist.
After my BAC in 2003 I was just a simple citizen living in Abéché. I didn’t know anything about the world. I looked for other jobs but nothing else seemed very interesting. I was very lucky that the next year I saw an advertisement from an NGO called Internews which said they intended to set up a radio station in eastern Chad and that they were looking for journalists. And so I jumped at the chance and to my surprise I got the job! My dream came true and I became a journalist!
We received a lot of training with Internews and I’m very grateful for that. I’ve learnt the rules of journalism and now I can listen to other radio stations and see that they’re not being as professional as we are. I have learnt how to write, how to present, how to edit and most importantly how to make a programme interesting and engaging for the audience.
I believe that being a journalist is a noble job. I’ve learnt that I now have a responsibility to inform and educate people. We have a duty to show people a better way of life. A journalist should be in between people and authority, to act as a means of communication. When we make programmes about problems in the refugee camps and in the town of Abéché we’re playing that role – we’re acting on behalf of the people, to get answers.
In Chad and in the refugee camps there are lots of people who haven’t got any education, who live in the rural areas and don’t know anything. Radio is the only means of communication in this region; it’s a way to change people’s mentality. We have to be engaged.
The best report I did was about the Am Nabak refugee camp where there were lots of problems of insecurity. I went there even though it wasn’t safe. My report was about the fact that the humanitarians had pulled out because it was too dangerous. The refugees were really in a bad state. They had no water, there was no health care. I talked about how they were suffering.
The refugees didn’t know how to get in touch with the humanitarians, but my report acted as a bridge between them. After it went out the next day the local authorities said that they would improve the security situation. Then the humanitarians were able to go back to the camps and started helping people again. I think it was because of my report!
I was also very proud of my work during the rebel attacks of 2008. That year rebels came through Abéché and went to N’Djamena. There was fighting close to the town, and then bandits went everywhere stealing things. It was a very scary time, most of the international staff working for NGOs left. I made the decision to stay, and we managed to keep Radio Voix de Ouaddai on the air for the whole time. That was a very difficult thing to do, but I think we really helped the people because we were the only source of information they had – particularly the refugees who were isolated in the Darfur campaigns.
From the end of July we will have no salary. That is tough, and I am worried because I have a family and I need to feed them. But I will do what I can to make this radio station work. I’ve worked here for 7 years and I want to continue. With God’s help we will get more funding; but for now I’m here as a volunteer and I’m willing to give it a go.