Meet our Community Radio Volunteers!

Jun 15, 2017

Volunteers from Khop Community Radio Station in the north west of Lao PDR showcase their live broadcasting skills. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/ Chelsey Parish

UNDP-supported Community Radio stations across five provinces in Lao PDR broadcast in eight ethnic languages, sharing information to villagers in remote areas of the country. The stations are entirely run by volunteers from the communities, a diverse bunch of inspired, mostly young people, eager to learn and contribute their time and energy. See what three of them, from the Thateng radio station in Sekong Province have to say about their experiences working for the radio. The photos featured were taken by the volunteers themselves, with their mobile phones. 

Ms. Seuth Maninta

Seuth

I come from the Ta-oi ethnic group and was really interested in working with the Thateng radio because they broadcast in several languages, including Ta-oi. Many Ta-oi people don’t understand Lao and have a difficult time accessing information such as important messages on health, nutrition and safety. I have learnt a lot about my voice and how to use it, and about working with computers.

I remember that during my very first show people dialed in via telephone. Them calling made me understand that every word of a broadcaster can inspire listeners. It is so important that I speak to them in their own language! When I arrived at home, several elderly people of my community thanked me, saying that I had a very nice voice which made them feel better and more energetic. And how my family admired me! It made me feel proud and helped me understand that even my little knowledge can make a lot of difference to people. Maybe, with my help, we can live a better life, step by step.

The Community Radio has changed my life, from someone who feels they have nothing to contribute to a person with useful knowledge. I used to be someone who stays in a narrow pocket of their community, but now I have become a person who dares to go out and contribute to the whole big society. 

Mr. Sisavan Sousi

Mr. Sisavan Sousi

I am studying at the Kabue secondary school and am a member of the Trieng ethnic group. For quite a while now, I have liked to listen to the radio program like other people in my community. My friend, Deng, told me that even as a student I could become a broadcaster and suggested for me to discuss with one of the broadcasters. Not much later, I started being on air myself!

I really felt I wanted to be a broadcaster to do something useful on the weekends. Also, I thought that this would give me a chance to learn many new things, especially how to work with a computer and how to speak in public. I felt that I wanted to develop myself in order to acquire the same abilities as someone like me living in a city would have. I am especially interested in using computers and to have the skills to communicate with others.

In the beginning, I thought a broadcaster’s work consist of only playing music on air. Soon, I understood how much more important this work was. Broadcasters search for and provide key information to villagers. Today, I am also eager to help locals make a better living by transferring useful information.        

My friends and teachers like to listen to my program. They are proud of me.  At the station, I often have the chance to meet new people, from different ethnic groups, which widens my horizon every day. 

Ms. Nokna Douangpanya

Ms. Nokna Douangpanya

My father likes to listen to the Thateng Community Radio program and heard that the project wanted to recruit a volunteer to coordinate the work of Radio Volunteers in Thateng and Dakcheung. I applied for the position and am very happy I was chosen. My work includes helping Community Radio Volunteers from many villages and ethnic groups from remote areas to learn new skills and to produce quality broadcasts.

During my work so far, I have had opportunities to exchange experiences which helped both me and them in their own work. Being able to visit many of those villages tucked away and hard to reach, I understood so much more about the reality of the communities living in them. I now grasp that many people lack a chance to learn and study and realise the rights that every member of society is entitled to. I have learned so much about equality, real equality where ethnic people get the same access to services as people living in the city, for example.

Experience from my work with the Community Radio made me understand how important it is to develop your own community, doing everything possible to help yourself and others to create a future worth living.