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Radio Soleil: Giving a voice to older people

23 Jul 2010

Radio Soleil - Giving a voice to older peopleAs we organised Mother's Day and Father's Day actiivites for older people in Haiti, I realised how little time is given to them for the rest of the year. It is like they no longer exist.

Older people live with the burden of isolation, psychological distress, health problems and family responsibilities every day.

During a tragedy like the 12 January earthquake, we often think of women, children or handicapped people but we forget and generally neglect the fate of older people.

Furthermore the government and different humanitarian actors in the field know very little about older people's needs.

A voice to share their experience

Mostly, older people want to play an active role in society. After the quake, older people said clearly that they did not want to be spectators, but wanted to be active in the reconstruction of their country.

Because of this, they had to be given a voice. A voice that will help their real needs be known. A voice to express their aspirations. A voice to share their experience, which will help rebuild Haiti. But how do we give them this voice?

A radio show for and by older people

Currently in Haiti, the radio is the most listened to medium of communication. It is also the most accessible in the camps and everywhere else in the country.

HelpAge therefore decided to produce a radio show targeting older people. Other than big interventions that take time to set up, the radio is the cheapest, most direct and efficient way of reaching the public.

Older people are active partners in all parts of the project. All the topics of the show are chosen by older people and the principal contributors will be older people as well.

A studio in a van

Following the 12 January earthquake, the Radio Soleil building in Port-au-Prince was completely destroyed. It was with good faith and boundless determination that the station director, Father Désinor Jean, and his team were able to revive the station. Until the new facilities are finished, Radio Soleil broadcasts from a van. With the station's objectives being education and community assistance, HelpAge has found the ideal partner.

"Causer granmoun paroles timoun"

Starting on 25 July, HelpAge will broadcast a weekly 30 minute show on Radio Soleil, covering the Port-au-Prince area and part of the Réseau Etoile (a network with sister stations all over the country). The radio show, "Causer Granmoun Paroles Timoun", which loosely translates as "Older people's chatter, children's discussion", will target older people and those affected by the earthquake.

Hosted by an older and younger person each week, the show will invite older people to discuss their concerns and hopes. This intergenerational dialogue is the keystone of the show: reinforcing the link between the generations while offering a privileged platform to the older generation.

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti.

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Author profile

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.