First person: an antidote to the disinformation on the air in the Central African Republic |
“When people call the radio station, they might be telling the truth, but they can also spread hate speech, and people often ask me to tell them if certain information they have heard is true or false.
This is why journalists need to travel across the country, so that we can see with our own eyes what is really happening on the ground and how communities are struggling to survive on a daily basis.
Many people in the capital have no idea what is going on inside the country. They can eat and drink whatever they want and walk around in peace and safety, but when you travel inland you can see that there is a crisis. People are not free to express themselves or go about their business freely.
I joined MINUSCA with the aim of doing my part to bring peace to my country, and I think my work with Guira-FM has a positive impact, but sometimes it can be frustrating. People will come to me and say, “we need you to help us, we need you to be able to support us, but you cannot solve our problems”. All I can tell them is that help will come later, and it breaks my heart that I can’t do more. It is therefore important to share the stories of the people we have met and to whom we have spoken on Guira-FM.
UN Photo / Catianne Tijerina
Transforming women’s lives
When I was assigned to Kaga-Bandoro, which is about 300 km from Bangui, I was the only woman from Guira-FM to work in the field. Sometimes being young and feminine, with a distant family in the capital, can be an advantage. People want to help, and because I’m young other young people find it easier to talk to me and say things to me that older people wouldn’t.
But women in places like Kaga-Bandoro face many challenges. Many of them want to learn trades, but in some areas only boys are allowed to study, and in others there are no schools.
We therefore started to use the local time slots made available by the national radio
station to do programs that focus on women, and we seem to have made an impact. If you go to Kaga-Bandoro today you will see that the women are really starting to contribute a lot more. Not only in trades like sewing or hairdressing, but even on construction sites, we see that women work among men, who no longer think that the industry is only for them.
“One day, peace must return”
Central Africans need to see that we are all from the same nation, and that we must work together to rebuild this country.
When I think of peace, I think of what I saw in a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Birao, over 1,000 km from the capital, near the border. with Sudan.
I was trying to interview someone when an 18 month old child approached me, completely naked. The child just wanted to be with me, so I hugged her and continued the interview.
I said to myself, if there was peace, this child would not be in a displaced persons camp, she would be with her family in their house, living in peace, perhaps in Bangui. There are a lot of children like that in IDP sites, who want to return home, but cannot due to lack of security. One day, peace must return, so that these children find their place.