By Alakok Mayombo, Internews Senior Media Trainer
Nominated with thirty-three other journalists for coverage of COVID-19, radio presenter Onesmo Loy says he was surprised to win first prize in the Mzalendo awards contest, which was hosted by the Tanzania Youth Elite Community (TYEC). The awards recognize the work of journalists, civil society organizations, civil servants, and politicians. One hundred and fifty people and institutions were selected across the country.
Reporting on the pandemic while protecting himself and his family
“I couldn’t believe my ears! It was such good news after all the difficulties I had faced out and about reporting on the pandemic,” said Loy, a father of two. “Most days, I would come home from work and even my family was afraid of me, for fear of infection. I had to wash outside my house before entering.”
35-year old Loy’s Arusha-based Sunrise Radio station partnered with Internews’ Boresha Habari project in 2018, with the goal of producing content that residents of local communities could use to improve their lives.
“I got this prize because of Internews, which has played a cardinal role in my training for the past three years,” said Loy.
“I am grateful fortheir professional mentoring and for teaching me how to protect myself against COVID-19 in the field. For example, how and why to wear a mask, how to tie a voice recorder to a long stick to create a safe distance from an interviewee, and how to persuade others to adopt health precautions, such as handwashing and mask-wearing.”
Dedication and hard work pay off
During the mentorship, Internews’ financial assistance enabled Loy to move around his community gathering stories on the pandemic. TYEC president Ojungu Saitabau says Loy’s dedication stood out. “We monitored all nominees closely and noticed that Loy was not just reporting but going the extra mile to gather information which had a great impact on his listeners.”
Loy received a monetary award and a certificate for his contribution to the fight against the pandemic. His manager at Sunrise Radio, Hawa Msangi says the reward is well-deserved: “Loy is not only hard-working, he’s also keen to learn and this combination makes him a great asset to our station.”
Tanzania’s government claims to have eradicated COVID-19 and last reported on the pandemic in May 2020, citing 509 infections and 21 deaths. Independent data is currently unavailable.
Boresha Habari is a five-year media and civil society strengthening program implemented by Internews in Tanzania and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).