Refugees take the mic and speak up about their displacement

Radio studio Radio studio © Photo by nittygritty_photo on Unsplash

A microphone, a headset and a powerful story to be told. This is what it takes to turn fear into opportunities, and this is also the aim of the radio show “Good morning, Yaoundé”, run by refugees who seek to narrate their life journeys. Emmanuel Ambei, 30 years old, Chadian refugee student now living in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé, is among the students who make it possible. Thanks to a small grant from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Emmanuel and other refugee students committed themselves to run a radio program spreading awareness on refugees’ plights. “Our objectives are to be able to make refugees speak, to make them known to others and to the world”, says Ambei.

The programme includes field reports and studio interviews. On the one hand, Emmanuel and his fellows record refugees’ lives in camps and urban areas, witnessing the scarcity of work, but also the welcoming feeling of the refugee community toward the group of trained journalists. On the other, the shy voices of refugees would be recorded. Emmanuel claims that they are all connected: not only each story is equally touching, but it also teaches him something new about the lives of refugees in Cameroon, especially of those living in non-urban areas, that are known to have fewer opportunities in terms of education, jobs and healthcare.  

Aired on the main public radio station of Cameroon in June, the project is expected to be expanding soon to other French-speaking African countries. In addition to the primary focus of the project, young refugees are challenging themselves and are creating opportunities: they are being trained in the field of journalism and communication by the International Council of French-speaking Radio and Television (CIRTEF) professionals. This is the case of Mabel, who sees the needs of her refugees brothers and sisters and now nurtures the idea of working in the humanitarian field.




Author: Barbara Caltabiano

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