Launched under the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme in May 2009, this interactive radio programme series focuses on the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Zimbabwe. The radio series, entitled Inzwi Redu/Ilizwi Lethu/Our Voice, seeks to encourage children’s participation in response to HIV and AIDS through a studio-based discussion between a grandmother and a group of children.
The nationwide radio series, which is being aired between 16h30 and 17h00 on Thursdays, aims to reach at least 200,000 orphans and other vulnerable children in Zimbabwe with comprehensive life-saving and life-enhancing information and skills that will contribute towards their development. It is broadcast on Radio Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe’s two main local languages, Shona and Ndebele.
The programme consists of a studio-based discussion between a grandmother, "Gogo", and children. According to the organisers, in Zimbabwean culture, the grandmother is a person to whom young people turn to for advice and information when facing challenges in life. The choice for this character in the Inzwi Redu/Ilizwi Lethu/Our Voice radio programme was inspired by this traditional role of the grandmother and the recognition of the Gogo as a symbol of wisdom and as a person to whom young people can turn to for social advice. The character was also chosen based on research data that shows that over 65% of OVC are being cared for by grandparents, the majority of whom are grandmothers.
In each programme, two children read a story after which "Gogo" asks them questions on what they have learnt. The series explores children’s issues around HIV and AIDS, life skills, access to basic services, and psychosocial support, among others. Information on the programmes is tailored towards the general development of the children, breaking the vicious cycle of vulnerability and HIV transmission, and, at the same time, enhancing the children's personal survival.
Children at home also have an opportunity to participate in the programme through letter writing. Technical experts are called in every four weeks to discuss issues raised in previous programmes in order to encourage young listeners, as well as caregivers, programmers, and other adults, to share what they have learnt in previous weeks.
According to the organisers, around 1 million Zimbabwean children have been orphaned by AIDS.
In 2008 at the AIDS Conference in Mexico, a team of Key Correspondents (KCs), citizen journalists writing about health and development issues, coordinated by Health and Development Networks (HDN), documented voices of children expressing concerns over the failure of the AIDS response to involve children. The impact of HIV/AIDS is being felt by many children in the developing world, but, for a long time, the subject has been treated as an adult issue. This project is a response to the lack of children's voices.
Ministry of Labour and Social Services (MLSS), UNICEF, National AIDS Council (NAC), and Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
Healthdev.org website on June 12 2009.