by Danise L. Dannis, Beneficiary Communication Supervisor
The need for information dissemination through radio during and after the strike of an epidemic is as important as life’s necessities.
For the Liberian National Red Cross (LNRCS), the necessity of information dissemination to the vulnerable people is a priority in bringing about transformation especially after the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
To be effective, the organization introduced a strategic radio broadcasting programme, called “Radio in the Box” to help with quick information to people in remote rural areas.
This new system of broadcasting, the Radio in the Box, is a new idea to the people of Tosor Community, but importantly they were very excited over how information instantly reaches them out through the radio.
“The Radio in the Box is something new to us. In this our bad road condition, Red Cross drove hours just talk with us and hear our voices. This is something we must thank you the entire Red Cross family for thinking about our risk situation. You have shown us true meaning of humanity,” said Boima N. Senwahn while he was welcoming the team of Beneficiary Communications.
On a windy Thursday morning five members of the LNRCS Beneficiary Communications team embarked on a three hours journey in the jungle to the western part of Liberia, providing lifesaving information through the Radio in the Box. The purpose was to ensure that people in all part of Liberia receive right information through proper channel. Many other communities like Tosor community, are located in remote areas and they have no access to the true information of Ebola.
During one of the community engagement activities, radio in the box was broadcasting the discussion of the community members. It covered several towns and villages in the remote areas. People were happy to speak and listen to individual and problems in Tosor community.
Tosor has over 1,700 populations and having no access to information is as a situation that made the area deserted, but with the help of the Red Cross Beneficiary Communications new programme, the community is now being connected and able to solve some of their common problems through the information being shared by the LNRCS.
The LNRCS during Ebola epidemic period used community radio as a means of more than profiling the organization, but reaching out to its beneficiaries in providing educative messages. Radio was an easy means to reach out to the target audience. “We believe everything that comes on our radio especially on the Radio Red Cross” says a regular caller of the radio program. During the hit of Ebola, the community radios were the most effective channels of communications. The LNRCS developed partnership with them in all 15 counties to reach out to the most vulnerable people. Programme were aired in different schedules and focused on topics that surrounds life cycle that cannot be limited to; health and care, disaster preparedness, water and sanitation, livelihood and food security and Psychosocial support.
Again the Beneficiary Communication team visited another hard to reach community in central Liberia, Lower Margibi County. In this place, the community was the worst affected by the Ebola virus because the residents were not sensitized about the virus. “We believe this sickness that was killing us was God’s punishment to Liberia because we are not going by his words,” says Marilo Dolo, women leader of Boiuquelleh town. This town community lost 41 of their loved ones due to lack of information about what is Ebola and how to be safe from the deadly disease.
“Our means of information is very poor, we are completely limited in information sharing and the radio stations here in Margibi coverage doesn’t reach us but instead, and we listen to any rumor”, said Dolo. With the help of the Radio in the Box, which also connects to a larger radio station, the discussion explored their context, told their stories and shared the challenges they face. The LNRCS in collaboration with World Food Program brought to the people of Boiuquelle food items including, Rice, Beans, Oil, and Salt as a means of startup. They thanked the Red Cross Beneficiary communication team saying, “You made our voices heard and we have benefited but it will be good that this kind of radio style be taken to other people that are in similar condition like ours, once people listen to us and know our problem we believe they too will help and together Liberia will get better”.
The Red Cross as a humanitarian organization is positively impacting lives and restoring hope through its radio programme after the deadly Ebola virus struck, ravaged the country’s health and economic sectors and caused more psycho-social problem. It was quite common to have local officials and community dwellers participate through the call-in radio shows, and provide information to the public. These programs were very successful and help counter the rumors around Ebola Virus.