Radio drama capturing the fear of landmines and UXOs airs in Sudan

Landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) from the civil war put people's lives at risk even after the conflict's end Until all the remaining landmines are cleared, AAR dedicates itself to educating the people in Sudan, Afghanistan, and Laos so that those living in landmine-affected areas will not become victims of such weapons. We advise them on how best to avoid becoming involved in landmine-related accidents in their daily lives, and what to do when they come across landmines or UXO, taking into consideration the local customs and values. Here is a report from Ms. Harumi Kawagoe, an AAR staff from Khartoum Office in Sudan.

Original teaching materials reflecting a variety of cultural aspects

People in Sudan have been tormented by the countless landmines and UXO planted and dropped during the civil war lasting for more than 20 years. Since 2006,AAR has visited many villages, providing information sessions with our original teaching materials such as posters, flip charts, and songs.  As of January 31, 2014, we have reached 88,483 people in Sudan and raised awareness of the risks and threat of landmines and UXOs. For the local people to have better understanding of these sessions, we have created our own teaching materials that are compatible with the customs and cultures in the area. Before we begin to deliver these sessions, we conduct interviews with local people and children in the target area to find out their awareness level of their own culture as well as the risks of landmines and UXOs, and the results are reflected in our material development.
"We were anxious to find out what would become of Yasir," said the children who listened to the prototype of our radio drama. They enjoyed the content. (Kassala, February 2013)
In October 2013, we revised the teaching material for the eastern state of Kassala, where we currently convey information sessions. We created leaflets for the residents of South Kordofan located in southern Sudan but decided to change the illustrations of the characters so that the people in Kassala could better identify themselves with the characters. For example, we lightened the color of the characters’ skin and also changed their outfits from shirts and pants to traditional long, loose-fitting clothes called "jalabiya" common in the area.

A radio drama, based on a flip chart show made by AAR, is aired.

Furthermore, in October 2013, in order to provide information for those who live in remote areas where AAR staff cannot reach, we started to air a radio drama based on the teaching materials used in our sessions. Before deciding on the content, we asked the villagers and the children to listen to a sample broadcast and incorporated their feedback in the making of our drama. At first, the AAR staff themselves recorded the drama, but after we heard someone say, "The children's voices sound unnatural," we decided to ask professional voice actors to do the recording. We recorded the drama in two languages because, in Kassala, not only Arabic but also Hadendawa is spoken. From October 2013 to December 2013, the Arabic version was aired each morning, while the Hadendawa version aired once a week. From February 2014, we are planning to air the drama in five additional languages.
Receiving feedback on the script from elementary schoolchildren. (February 2013)
We asked the students to give their feedback while playing the drama. (February 2013)

The tale of Yasir and Hanan

"We're going to be late!" Yasir takes a shortcut to school through the woods, while his sister Hanan tries to stop him, saying, "Dad told us not to walk into the woods because it's dangerous." However, for fear of being punished for being late, Yasir walks into the woods.
Yasir finds an unfamiliar piece of metal in the woods. Hanan again warns him never to go near something unknown. Hanan makes fun of her by calling her a coward, and reaches out for the metal.

Hanan decides to rush home and ask their Dad to stop her brother, but on her way home, she hears a large explosion. "Yasir!" She runs home in tears and tells her Dad what has happened. Dad makes a report about the accident to the governmental anti-landmine organization. A rescue team arrives at the site of the accident and carries Yasir to the hospital, but he ends up losing one of his legs.

In the last scene, Yasir, who has been discharged, says, "Look what has happened to me. This is because I didn't listen to the advice by adults or my sister. I lost my leg. You should listen to what other people say and never go near something unknown or touch it. You should always use the same route. You should report to adults whenever you find something strange."

Quiz show on Landmines

For the purpose of informing the local people of the risks involved in landmines and UXOs, the radio station in Kassala, where this radio drama is aired, invited the AAR staff to a live show lasting for 45 minutes. The program host asked them some questions about the measures against landmine/UXO, and our staff gave answers. On November 24, they had a quiz show, where the host asked the listeners if they knew the signs that show where a landmine or UXO remained. In Sudan, they have the following four signs, and those who answered two correct ones were given prizes.
(1) A red, square sign with the picture of a skull and the words “Danger! Landmines!”
(2) A read, triangle sign with the picture of a skull and the words “Danger! Landmines!”
(3) A stone painted in red and white
(4) A tape painted in red and white
AAR staff were invited to a live radio program. (November 24th, 2013)
The listeners were invited to call the radio station and give their answers. Some of those who got through were so excited that they gave not only their names but also the names of their entire family and neighbors.

But only two gave the correct answer. Now that we have realized that the local people were not given enough information about th danger signs of landmines and UXO, we are determined to emphasize this point during  our information sessions as well as through the teaching materials we create.
The radio show host (in the center, front row) and the AAR staff. Sanaa (left in the second row) in charge of developing teaching materials, Yousif and Amaeim in charge of sessions. (November 24th, 2013)

This project was made possible through your generous contributions and the Joint Humanitarian Fund organized by UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

Sudan Office: Harumi KAWAGOE
After obtaining a graduate degree in Special Education in the UK and gaining working experience in a senior citizens' home, Ms. Harumi Kawagoe became involved in supporting the children in Palestine. She joined AAR Japan in June 2012 and has been stationed in Sudan since January 2013. A native of Hokkaido, her interests include watching soccer matches and Aikido, a kind of Japanese martial arts.