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Spreading a positive word

10 HIV+ people get course in radio journalism, produce series to inspire others, reports Alifiya Khan.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2009 00:50 IST
Alifiya Khan

Fearing ostracism, Rani (name changed) had decided to commit suicide before people discovered her HIV-positive status. Just when she was about to execute her plan, her brother-in-law stepped in and forced her to change her decision and outlook.

Rani’s brother-in-law took her to a support group, for counselling sessions. Belonging to a nomadic tribe with very little education did not deter this man from having a broad outlook and also influencing others to think differently about Rani.

Thirteen Such real-life stories have been turned into a radio programme by a group of 10 HIV-positive ‘radio journalists’.

The programme has been produced by two non-governmental organizations — The Maharashtra Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NMP+) and The Communication Hub (TCH) — under a World Bank-funded project.

“Last year, we started the project where 10 HIV positive people were selected for training in radio journalism. It was to create journalists among HIV positive people who would in turn interview other HIV positive people and develop radio episodes of 15 minutes each. It was meant for positive, inspiring stories with key issues to be addressed,” said Sonalini Mirchandini, chief executive, TCH that designs and develops innovative communication models for the social sector.

The production of the episodes will be complete by January 30. However the NGOs are falling short of funds to air them.

“The funds that we had have gone into production. But we don’t want to stop it there. We want people to hear these stories and we need funds to put them on air,” said Shabana Patel, member of NMP+.

The group wants to telecast the radio programmes that have been recorded in Marathi on All India Radio and needs approximately Rs 3 lakh for airing.

A docile housewife until two years ago, Vandana (name changed) had no idea how a voice recorder worked, or what a pen drive was or even that it was possible to modulate her voice to influence her listeners.

“Initially, it seemed strange to interview people for the programme, as I could have rather told my story. But eventually I realised that as I interviewed, I could also heal others through my experience. And the technical aspects of radio journalism excited me. In fact, I have made a short film too,” said Vandana.

The 10 radio journalists now hope that they could get into the profession by working for radio channels to make the project a success.