Rebuilding Haiti one broadcast at a time
February 19, 2010
Filed under Archives
The international community has provided Haiti with as much humanitarian aid as possible in the past weeks following the devastating earthquake that took place a month ago, but there is plenty of aid that the outside community cannot offer. The Haitian people should be admired for their strength. The entire country is desolate and the bulk of media focus has, understandably, been on the destruction of the country and the international aid that it has received, but the survivors have also been helping themselves in ways that the international community cannot.
The citizens of Haiti have used the radio to band together and have provided a fundamental foundation of support and comfort for each other.
“One of the most important functions of radio is in building connections between people within a community. It’s a way to spread information and spread comfort,” WQFS advisor Jonathan Hatch said. “I think that in a situation like Haiti right now . radio can bring people together, bring people hope, and remind people that life will get better again.”
According to slate.com, the radio stations have been communicating important information to the public. The news director of Radio Metropole, Wendell Theodore, has been broadcasting aid distribution sites and the names of people still unaccounted for. He has been broadcasting all of this information from under a tree in what once was the radio station’s yard.
Theodore’s house was also destroyed in the earthquake, but it seems he has not given up hope for himself or his fellow Haitians.
This is just one example of how the people have relied on each other, and on the radio, for support.
The radio stations in Haiti have long operated through hardship with the dictatorships that have been such a prevalent force, but when the earthquake reduced most buildings to rubble and left many Haitians homeless, new challenges presented themselves to the radio stations.
Because of low literacy rates and a lack of newspaper availability, the radio has always played an important role in Haiti. This past month, the radio has embraced a new level of significance.
“People come here to send messages to their relatives that they are OK or to have people call to say that they are OK,” director of Port-au-Prince’s RFM radio Rotchild Francois said in an interview with Slate. “We do that every day.”
In the United States, the radio may seem like nothing more than air space filled with music, commercials and bad talk shows, but the United States has a completely different political climate than Haiti. The radio in Haiti has provided the population with educational opportunities and enabled them to exercise freedom of speech through any venue.
Many Haitian citizens have lost their safety and shelter, but they are still fighting to regain their security through any means, whether it is through the radio or just through communication with one another.