New Studios for a Catholic Radio Station in Uganda
Project Code: 158-00-19
For more than 20 years, a bloody conflict raged in northern Uganda between the Ugandan government troops and the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) under their leader Joseph Kony. At times more than half the population of northern Uganda was living in refugee camps, for fear of the abductions and massacres. Estimates put the number of such uprooted internal refugees at close to 2 million, and no fewer than 30,000 children are thought to have been abducted and forced to live in the bush, either as child soldiers or sex slaves. As a result of this long conflict, one of the worst civil wars in Africa, there is now an immense need now for reconciliation, healing and rebuilding.
The Diocese of Lira was also severely affected by the civil war, but it is now doing what it can to help not just the material rebuilding of the country, but to restore hope and courage to the people. A major role in this task is played by the Catholic diocesan radio station Radio Wa, or “Our Radio.” Already during the time of the civil war, its children's program “Karibu” (“Welcome”) had former child soldiers who had managed to escape telling about their new lives and encouraging others like them to try and return to their families. These broadcasts are heard even in the bush, and, as a result, over the course of time, more than 1,500 child soldiers succeeded in escaping from their abductors because Radio Wa helped them to believe in the possibility of a new life.
The rebels, incensed by this success, attacked the radio station and set fire to it in September of 2002. Thankfully, the transmitter mast remained undamaged, and to this day Our Radio continues to broadcast its programs and promote peace and reconciliation in Uganda.
Since 2008 the situation in the north of the country has settled down, but a negotiated official peace agreement failed when Joseph Kony did not sign it. He also demanded, as a condition of the peace talks, that Radio Wa’s children's program be taken off the air. Although the station is extremely modestly equipped, both in personnel and materially, it provides a highly valued service to the people. Every week, for example, there is a radio play in which important topical issues, such as AIDS, domestic violence, marriage and family, alcoholism, returning home from the refugee camps, building a new life after the war, seeking reconciliation, are aired in an entertaining way but on the solid basis of the Church's teaching and Gospel values.
Another program explains the dangers of witchcraft. Former witch doctors explain the tricks that are commonly used to deceive people. The program is all the more important, given that even very recently there have been more and more cases of children being ritually sacrificed in witchcraft ceremonies, often in the hope that it will bring material prosperity. In particular the spread of AIDS has caused many people to turn back to old beliefs in witchcraft. They imagine, for instance, that this deadly illness is a result of a magic spell or curse that someone has put on them.
Some of the programs are aimed at women, while others are addressed at prisoners. The bishop of the diocese, Bishop Giuseppe Franzelli, himself speaks frequently on timely issues and topical questions. The station also has the possibility of making outside broadcasts, so that major liturgical celebrations, other events and festivities or local programs can be broadcast on the spot. The station currently has a radius of well over 60 miles, so that a great many people profit from the programs.
Until now the station has been housed in extremely modest premises. Since it was burned by the LRA rebels, the station has broadcast from a temporary building that looks more like a garage. Since its work is so important, Bishop Franzelli wants to be able to extend its program work, but in order to do so, more space is required. The plan is to build two studios and a cabin for live broadcasts, plus additional office space. ACN has promised a contribution of $8,100, so that the station can continue and expand its vital apostolate. Will you give to build new studios for this Catholic radio station in Uganda?
This project is an example of our work. Your donation will be attributed either to this or to another similar project that accords with the pastoral needs that ACN witnesses.