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Giving a voice to the voiceless in Haiti

16 Aug 2010

When HelpAge proposed the idea of a radio programme for older people to Father Jean (pictured), he jumped at the idea. It was obvious from the start that Radio Soleil and HelpAge had the same aim: giving a voice to the voiceless. 

Having studied communication in Italy, Father Jean became the director of Radio Soleil in 2003. He launched his first programme called "Camionette Soleil" or Sunshine Van, soon after. 

He was in the middle of broadcasting a series about the contrast between living in the city or countryside when the 12 January earthquake struck.

Breaking the isolation older people face

After the disaster, Father Jean built the radio station back up, with the most vulnerable in mind. He started by broadcasting from a van (pictured below), as the radio station building was destroyed in the earthquake. He said: "The situation of older people before the earthquake was already difficult, but after it became catastrophic."

Father Jean believes that to help older people, we need to break the isolation they face. To do this, he wants to build better places where older people can meet up, eat, bathe and find some comfort and warmth. 

In short, a place to regain their dignity. Accordingly, Father Jean believes that HelpAge's project to create older people's associations fits perfectly with what he aims to do. 

Using communication as a vehicle for change

A man of action who believes in communication as a tool for advocacy and vehicle for change, Father Jean imagines big things ahead for his radio programme. 

He wants to move the programme on Radio Soleil, "Koze Granmoun, Pawòl Timoun" (Older people's chatter, children's discussions) which broadcasts every Sunday afternoon at 4pm from 105.7 FM and is repeated every Friday evening at 8:00pm, to the TV screen or "Télé Soleil".

Father Jean concluded: "It would be great to accompany the radio series by a television programme. Today, we need to reach and mobilise people through all available channels to really make a difference."

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti

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Claudel Victor
Country: Haiti
Job title: Communications Officer

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.