Jamyel Jenifer

Jamyel Jenifer (Uganda): Jamyel graduated In 2006 from Spelman College in Atlanta, where she majored in French with a concentration in Pre-Medicine. As an undergraduate student, Jamyel also participated in a semester domestic exchange program at Wellesley College and a summer French Immersion program in Martinique. She then worked as a Pre-Service Assistant in the Office of Medical Services of Peace Corps and went on to serve for two years as the Health Education Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa where she worked on women’s reproductive rights. At the time of her AP fellowship, Jamyel was studying for a Masters degree in International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester. After her fellowship Jaymel wrote: "[I] learned about how grassroots organizations function and about the effectiveness of using radio."

Speaking on the Radio, Part II

31 Jul

The radio station in Soroti that Dorothy and myself had previously spoken on, Delta FM, was gracious enough to give us free radio time again. But the purpose of this second visit was more to start a dialoge about human sacrifice on top of reintroducing the Gideon Foundation and its efforts to end human sacrifice to radio listeners. The Gideon Foundation volunteers and I decided that a way we could start a dialogue with radio listeners is by having me share what I have learned about human sacrifice through the interviews that we have conducted with 9 victims/survivors of human sacrifice, district officials, police officers, etc. So on July 12, 2011, Dorothy and I spoke on the radio again and this time it was at night from 8-9 pm.

The radio host, called the Peacemaker, really liked what we were trying to convey and so during the entire show he did not run any commercials and in fact he gave us extra time. So Dorothy and I were on the radio for over an hour and a half. The show went very well and there were many responses to each of the questions that I asked, but unfortunately due to time we could only take 3-5 calls per question. I would say the question in English and then Dorothy would translate it into one of the local languages in Soroti, Ateso.

But speaking on the radio in a country with frequent power outages, if there is electricity, and that also does not have stellar telephone reception throughout the entire country, resulted in many callers not being able to get through. Then some of the callers who were lucky enough to get through had their phone calls cut off in the middle of their response either because of the telephone reception or because they ran out of phone credit. Also, unfortunately the electricity had gone out shortly before Dorothy and I went on the radio. When the electricity came back on minutes before 8 pm, the person who was supposed to switch the recording button back on failed to do so. So I was not able to get a recording of the show but I do have the script that I had wrote up and that we used for the show. I wrote up the script and then the Gideon Foundation volunteers and I edited it together:

Gideon Radio Script II-Delta

But we received phone calls from throughout the district of Soroti. Most of the responses were that the devil is what drives people to carry-out human sacrifice; that politicians and wealthy businessmen practice human sacrifice out of fear of losing their wealth and power; that the culprits should be killed or receive long prison sentences . . . one caller spoke of how radio stations need to stop running advertisements for witchdoctors, as some of them do. Another one of the phone calls was from a man who was part of a rural farmer’s association and he asked if the Gideon Foundation could come and speak to this association about human sacrifice because they would like to do something as well. He then gave us his phone number and the Gideon Foundation is currently seeing if and how they can speak to this association.

During the show I again gave out the phone number to the executive director of the Gideon Foundation, Santos Labeja, and he received about 12 phone calls. But most of these phone calls were just people who were seeing if the number was real. There was one phone call from a man who did know of some cases of human sacrifice in his community and we are currently speaking with this person.

I was really happy with how many people had called in and in fact, as we were leaving, people were still calling the show. But another thing that makes speaking on the radio difficult, well for me at least, is language. There are many languages spoken here in Uganda and Soroti is no exception. There were some listeners who didn’t know English, others who didn’t know Ateso . . . also speaking in English, with my particular accent, and then having someone else translate the message into Ateso is I’m sure tiresome. I also was not able to understand the responses in all of their entirety as they spoke in either Ateso or another local language. The radio announcer would summarize the response for me in English but there were some callers who were more comfortable giving their response in a language that neither the radio announcer nor Dorothy knew so there were some responses where no one really knew what was said.

I was also surprised with the positivity behind the responses. All of the responses were encouraging the Gideon Foundation to continue and thanking Dorothy and myself for speaking on the radio about this topic. I say surprised because Santos and Leah Labeja have spoken on the radio against human sacrifice before and they were sometimes met with callers who were not very supportive and would accuse them of lying.

We plan on speaking on the radio once more and are currently inquiring if Delta FM or another radio station in Soroti would be kind enough to give us radio time.

Photo: Radio host, the Peacemaker, Dorothy and myself

Posted By Jamyel Jenifer

Posted Jul 31st, 2011

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