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John Kaumba Makulu, left, and the Rev. Chris Tshitenga work together on a video about community health workers and a United Methodist Communications training in Kamina. Tshitenga plans to develop a radio story from the video. Photo by Vicki Brown, UMNS

Photo by Vicki Brown, UMNS

John Kaumba Makulu, left, and the Rev. Chris Tshitenga work together on a video about community health workers and a United Methodist Communications training in Kamina. Tshitenga plans to develop a radio story from the video.

Church media form new Africa radio network

By Vicki Brown
Aug. 4, 2015 | KAMINA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS)

A new United Methodist Radio Network of Africa has already produced its first story, which features information about how community health workers are saving lives with text messaging in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The network, formed by the directors of the denomination’s four radio stations in Africa — Voice of Hope in Côte d’Ivoire, Radio ELAM in Liberia, Kairos in Angola and Lokole in the Congo — plans to regularly share content in French, English and Portuguese.

“This is the beginning of the network,” the Rev. Chris Tshitenga, director of the station in Kinshasha, said of his collaboration with John Kaumba Makulu, who is producing a video to accompany the audio report. Kaumba Makulu is the director of communication for the South Congo Conference.

The station directors formed the network during a United Methodist Communication-sponsored training in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, after discovering they faced many of the same challenges —financial struggles and scarce content, especially about The United Methodist Church.

Then, when Tshitenga and Kaumba Makulu heard a panel discussion at another training event about the Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau’s work with Medic Mobile and community health workers in the North Katanga Conference, they decided to collaborate on a story.

The two communicators interviewed Medic Mobile staff, community health workers and Musau about their use of SMS — mass texting — to convey safety practices during a cholera outbreak, follow up with pregnant women about pre-natal care and help clinics and other health providers quickly locate and exchange needed medications.

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To ask about purchasing advertising on the new United Methodist Africa Radio Network, contact Neelley Hicks at nhicks@umcom.org or (615) 742-5444.

Staff from Medic Mobile will take part in the Game Changers Summit 2015. Learn more about Game Changers or register online.

 

Hearing the story

Tshitenga said the community health workers are doing excellent work, and he believed United Methodists in West Africa and the rest of the world needed to hear the story. The report also covers the rest of the “Communicating Faith in the 21st Century” training.

He believes the radio network will offer United Methodist groups a way to reach a previously isolated audience and perhaps provide financial assistance through the sale of advertising and production services.

Dan Krause, top executive for United Methodist Communications, said the agency is excited to be part of a new way of communicating in Africa.

“We support the sharing of information both domestically and abroad so that all Africans are up to date on what is happening in their homeland no matter where they are in the world,” Krause said.

Lydie Acquah, elected coordinator of the new network, is developing a proposal for United Methodist Communications to manage an Internet platform for the network streaming and content sharing for local radio broadcasts. Local broadcasters could download the content from the platform. Acquah is the manager of the Voice of Hope station.

The Rev. Neelley Hicks, director of ICT4D Church Initiatives for the denomination’s communications agency, said the collaboration also could help West Africans living abroad to stay in touch with what is going on in their homelands. ICT4D stands for information and communications technology for development ─ technology for social good.

“The African diaspora will be able to listen to the stories through the Internet,” said Hicks, who facilitated the meeting and is working with the group to help with distribution and translations.

“The Voice of Hope in Abidjan is already streaming and they have agreed to create a platform.”

Kaumba Makulu said the network reinforces the work that was begun in the training events.

“This collaboration is a unique exchange of something positive,” he added.

Brown is news editor for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5472.