Rose Marie Dorvilus, 29, lives in Petion Ville which is considered the uptown of Port-au-Prince and has been living there with family members ever since the earthquake on 12 January, 2010 destroyed her home in Delmas 19.
“It was a new experience for all of us because we had never seen or lived through an earthquake before,” she says. “The Red Cross provided us with information that could help us and they continue to give us information on other things other than the earthquake.”
Rose Marie is just one of the many listeners of the Red Cross radio show, better known as Radyo KwaWouj. Launched in 2010, the radio show is broadcast on Radio One 90.1FM on Wednesdays at 3pm and is heard nationwide. It contains messages and advice on first aid, blood donation, cholera, and other health issues that may affect the population as well as information on disaster preparedness.
“When cholera came, the show was really important because we received all the information we needed on what to do to help someone who has cholera,” Rose Marie says. “So, when people in the area started to get sick we knew what we had to do.”
Rose Marie first heard about the radio show from a neighbour. Since then she listens to Radyo KwaWouj every week and encourages others to do so as well.
Radyo KwaWouj makes sure that it provides its listeners with updated information on the latest health and disaster issues because, even four years after the earthquake, the population is still very much in need of life-saving information.
Radyo KwaWouj is not, though, the only communications tool used by the Red Cross to spread important messages to the population.
The Red Cross IVR system – or Telefon KwaWouj as it is more widely known – was launched on 28 May 28, 2012 by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the Haiti Red Cross Society in order to provide timely, accurate information. The launch marked the first time the Red Cross has used an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) automated telephone system to provide people with vital health and emergency preparedness information.
By simply dialing 733, people have access to information on topics such as health care, cholera treatment and prevention, and blood donation. This system gets the message out on what prevention measures to take in order to secure their homes and ensure the safety of their families ahead of an impending tropical storm, hurricane or other natural disasters.
The system can also be used to survey its users to ensure the Red Cross is reaching the right people with the best information at the right time.
In March 2010, the IFRC started sending information to the population by SMS as part of specific communication campaigns. Essential information concerning health and safety measures are sent to hundreds of thousands of people over the Digicel mobile phone network.
After the earthquake it was important to get information on hygiene and disease prevention to the victims as quickly and as widely as possible. The Red Cross began using a sound truck to go where radio or cell phone could not. Today the sound truck is still in use and can be seen in the streets of Port-au-Prince as well the provinces spreading cholera prevention, hygiene promotion, violence prevention as well as HIV and AIDS prevention messages.
“There is no such thing as too much information, because the more you hear it the better you remember it,” Rose Marie says.
Radio KwaWouj provides a weekly dose of accurate, timely information on a range of subjects including health and disaster preparedness.