Our CEO, Kristine, has spent over 25 years living and working in Africa. She’s visited more than 30 countries on the continent, and has extensive experience bringing our radios and Lifeplayers to communities. Read some of her reflections …
Travelling with him is a bit like travelling with a rock star. People hear his voice and want to speak to him, ask him questions and learn what he knows. Through my work at Lifeline Energy, I’ve had the opportunity to meet heads of state, thought leaders, captains of industry and even a few Hollywood celebrities. However, none have made the impression on me that a man whose motto is “If I’m not helping someone everyday, then I’m not doing my job” has. I’m referring to Filius Chalo Jere, whose greatest satisfaction comes from helping others.
We arrived in Zambia on Thursday 11 August – election day – in Livingstone. Over the course of the five days, I spoke with dozens of people on both sides of the political spectrum. What was overwhelmingly clear is that people were prepared to support whoever was elected. This is, as it was explained to me, “the Zambian way. We just want peace.”
With the World Economic Forum for Africa in Kigali this year, Kristine looks back at the progress made since the genocide of 1994.
Survivors of humanitarian crises are forced to leave their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. Suddenly displaced, proud, hardworking people lose everything and require help for the most basic of needs: food, water, medicine and shelter. And no less important is the need for information.
Today is National Women’s Day in South Africa. It marks the day in 1956 when 20,000 women from across the colour bar descended on the Union Buildings in Pretoria. They marched in opposition to the dreaded apartheid pass laws. For me the day has deep personal significance …
In Kenya’s remote Marsabit district near the Ethiopia border, girls face female genital mutilation (FGM), early or forced marriage, and lack access to education and health services. The drought-prone region is plagued by conflict, and like in most places, violence affects women more than men.
A story of Fordward, who became mother and father to his five younger siblings after his parents were killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was just 11. The voices on the radio were the ones he listened to and trusted because no one he knew could give him the advice and guidance he needed to be a parent.
“I am truly happy to have this Lifeplayer to help me teach. While one class is listening to their lessons, I can be with learners in another class,” said a teacher at a multi-grade farm school in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province.
The ‘magic radio’ is tuned it into Grade 1: Lesson 1: Segment 1 and on a chair on top of the table so that everyone can see it. What a delight it was to watch these little ones spontaneously dance and sing, “I am excited, I am so happy, Taonga’s your chance to learn. Ta-ta-ta Taonga Market …”
In the poorest parts of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, charcoal is used for cooking. The women who make a living selling tiny packets of charcoal are accompanied by their children, who spend their days playing in and around enormous piles of charcoal.
Rural communities in Kenya didn’t hear about the horrific attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, as they lacked electricity and couldn’t afford batteries to power a radio.
What I call the four fuels of poverty – firewood, charcoal, kerosene and candles – means that as long as the poor are dependent on non-renewable energy sources, they cannot raise themselves out of poverty. When you’re spending between 10-40% of your meagre income on inefficient and harmful fuels you can’t get ahead.
Mwenya Mvula served as a volunteer ‘mentor’ in Zambia’s Learning at Taonga Market primary radio school programme in 2001, and was one of the first in Zambia to be trained to use interactive radio instruction (IRI) methodology. Today he’s a qualified Grade 6 Science teacher.