In a country where information is hard to come by, Internews built three community FM radio stations, providing a valuable service to the Darfuri refugee population and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in camps in eastern Chad. Because of a lack of trained journalists in the country, Internews helped young people who were novices but eager to learn take lead roles at the stations.
“Now I’ve learnt the trade of journalism I can say that I love the job – it’s even better than I thought it would be. I like it because information and communication can really help the community,” said Madjihinguem Nguinabe, who didn’t know anything about journalism when he volunteered in 2009. “We’ve had lots of occasions when people have come to us at Radio Sila and said ‘without that information that you broadcast there would have been a problem in the community.’”
Issaka Allafouza had a childhood dream to be a journalist but never had the opportunity until Internews hired him in 2004 to train and work at Voix de Ouaddai.
“I believe that being a journalist is a noble job,” he said. “I’ve learnt that I now have a responsibility to inform and educate people. 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.”
Nguinabe believes that the best program he has produced was a story about a young woman who was sexually harassed by her university professor. No one took her complaints seriously until the program was aired and the school authorities were forced to act. “These kinds of programmes about violence against women – rape, early marriage, forced marriage etc. – these are the most important,” says Nguinabe.
The story that Allafouza says he is most proud of was about the Am Nabak refugee camp where humanitarian organizations had pulled out due to security problems. The refugees were suffering due to the lack of water and health care. Allafouza travelled to the camp even though it wasn’t safe. His report encouraged the local authorities to improve the security situation and the humanitarian organizations were able to go back to the camps and start helping again.
Internews’ project in Chad was funded by the US State Department, Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration, and by UNHCR. As project funding was completed in July 2012, the radio stations’ dedicated staff and journalists are volunteering and working hard to find new ways to support the stations and themselves.