The ‘Refugee for Refugee Radio’ is a radically different community radio program where Syrian refugees, Internal Displaced Iraqi Arabs, Kurds and soon Yazidi’s discuss topics of interest, share vital information, as well as music that they enjoy: a program where young women learn how to be journalists and learn the technical aspects of radio. The radio airs in the Sorani and Kurmanji Kurdish dialects as well as in Arabic.
Reports in the Media:
This project was launched by our organization in February 2016. Since then it has found quick success. The ubiquity of radio in the area means that everyone is able to access the channel, especially people living in refugee camps where life is both boring and extremely stressful. Four refugee camps are located in reach of the radio station.
Community radio has provided an incredible outlet for the young journalists. Many are displaced from their families, but are excited to now have a career, and a chance to live life on their own terms; the break in family structure can ironically be a new lease on life. All the young women are highly motivated to produce quality content and take their work seriously.
Hiva, 28, is from Kobani. After a month of training, she is one of the announcers for Arabic and Kurmanji segments as well as conducting interviewers.
Hiva studied philosophy for two years in a university in Lebanon, as well as two of Financial studies Halab University. She is married and has a son, her husband worked as contractor and according to Hiva, they lived poorly.
She explained that many people praised her for her Radio work, which made her feel happy. Hiva wishes to be announcer if she is ever able to go back to Syria.
Hanin -originally from Fallujah- is one of the new young journalists who recently trained in Halabja and is now on air daily as part of the ‘Refugee for Refugee Radio’.
When describing Halabja -widely regarded as backwards, conservative and Islamist by the Kurds- in a recent interview Hanin explained, “this is a wonderful city, where we are respected as women and you can move freely”.
Hanin also hopes that someday Fallujah will be as open and nice as Halabja.
That motivates her; as she would one day like to open a community radio herself upon return to her home city that is still under control of the Islamic State (IS).
Shadan is from Halabja and belongs to the second generation of community journalists of Radio Dangue Nwe. Three years ago she herself passed a course offered by the radio.
Now she is a mentor herself teaching Hiva, Hanin, Souzan and Layla how to be on air.
The idea of building a community radio when upon their eventual return to their respective home countries or cities is certainly a long-term goal of the project, and part of Nwe’s approach of providing a framework that allows people to empower themselves.
This thought was shared by Hanin: “I am very grateful that I can work here as a journalist! It has been four years of doing nothing, and now I am so happy. I did not even know that something like this is possible when I was still in Fallujah. I am much more confident now and open when I talk to people. And I also like it very much that we are such a mixed team; I have not been with Syrians before.”
Another reality of Coexistance:
In the middle of all the turmoil in the Middle East these projects prove that another reality of coexistence and cooperation is possible. Most of the women from Halabja now running the Center were once refugees and fled to Iran after Saddam has destroyed their city. “We know what it means to live in a camp”, explains Hero, a survivor of the chemical attacks. “We had no support back then and we would have loved to have place for ourselves. Therefore we are trying to welcome these other women and children who are now fleeing war and destruction with open arms.”
During the inauguration of the Refugee Radio Hanin was wearing Kurdish clothes expressing her thankfulness for their new hosts. This was widely recognized inside the Kurdish community, because various TV stations reported about this event. And even Al Jazeera Arabic made short clip about the new radio journalists at work:
This unique project was made possible with support of Wadi and some funds from the Green Cross Switzerland.