On Radio and Loudspeakers, Giving Hope Through Information on COVID-19

Give Them Hope, a grantee of Internews’ Rapid Response Fund, serves marginalized women and children in rural communities in Liberia. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the organization has been working with nine rural community FM stations to carry out health education, COVID-19 awareness and risk prevention in nine local languages using interactive talk shows.

They provide the radio audience with translated health messages from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the local health ministry, providing information such as social distancing guidelines in local languages. Each local FM station has an average audience of over thirty thousand people.

Reaching rural areas with information and aid

A man sits on a motorbike wearing a face mask and holding a card
GTH Field Supervisor Alex Wonyon gets on the bike purchased with the grant to go out into the community. Credit: Give Them Hope

With grant funding, Give Them Hope purchased loudspeakers to mount on cars and motorbikes to broadcast messages to a wider audience using their network of community members. They purchased data credits to communicate via phones and the Internet. The organization also is providing food to vulnerable people who may not be able to get out due to trying to stay safe at home.

Woman stands holding a baby with 2 children by her site
Patience Washington and her three children act on the information about COVID-19 they hear on the radio. Credit: Give Them Hope

“I have completely changed my behavior and am following preventative procedures by washing my hands regularly as aired by the Give Them Hope Radio,” Patience Washington, a single mother with three kids who lives in Gbarnga, Central Liberia, told Give Them Hope. “I have been greatly helped also with the food items of rice given me during these very difficult economic times for a single mother like me.”

“I regularly call all of my grandchildren together to listen to the informative health messages from the radio,” said Martha Gonleseh from Ganta, Nimba County. “Additionally, as an elderly woman in my early eighties, getting food during this crisis time has been very challenging. Give Them Hope not only gives me messages and information that I desperately need, but they also give me rice, our staple food.”

Modest funding makes a big impact

Give Them Hope wanted to increase the reach and scope of their COVID-19 messaging but was having difficulty finding funding. They had the experience – during the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2015, Give Them Hope mobilized their community groups into a massive awareness and education campaign and helped lessen the impact of Ebola in the country.

“Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have applied to over thirty different organizations for funding, but the familiar response has been, ‘we regret,’ said C. Christian Zarweah, Project Officer for Give Them Hope. With the Rapid Response Fund grant from Internews, “You have turned the story around.”

Internews’ Rapid Response Fund grants were on average around $3,000.

The pandemic crisis is also an information crisis, and journalists are the first responders. In an emergency, information saves lives. Hear from more journalists and information providers, as they grapple to stay operational and report on the crisis.

(Banner photo: Oretha Borbor leads an interactive radio awareness and discussion in the Mano language on Radio Sletowa in Ganta. Credit Give Them Hope)