Discovering Sara Radio in Tanzania
Reflections from Valérie Meunier, Head of Fondation CHANEL’s International Program
Between 17 and 22 October 2016, my colleague Adeline Azrack and I took part in a mission to monitor and assess the “Sara Radio” project, an educational radio programme dedicated to the empowerment of children aged 10 to 14. This pilot project, developed by UNICEF, is currently being established in 148 schools in the Iringa region, in the centre of Tanzania.
Fondation CHANEL chose to support this flagship UNICEF project due to its innovative approach promoting the empowerment of children, in particular young girls, most of whom will never attend secondary school. There are multiple obstacles to the education of young girls in Tanzania, particularly those who come from disadvantageous socio-cultural backgrounds or unstable economic situations, which often lead them to abandon their studies. Sara Radio raises awareness among young girls and boys about themes having a major impact on their education, such as HIV, access to water, hygiene and children’s rights.
Visiting this project in Tanzania was my very first field mission since my arrival at Fondation CHANEL and I am delighted that I was able to start this amazing adventure by visiting the Sara Radio project. The UNICEF representatives worked extremely hard to prepare the visit. It was an intense week! Adeline and I visited two schools, in remote villages accessible by little country roads. It was important to meet children, teachers and the government in order to understand the environment in which the project is evolving.
I was able to see the real, positive effects of this project, not only on attendance rates and the behaviour of the children at school, but also on the level of vigilance and accountability of the entire community concerned. The girls told us about the various obstacles they face at school and how Sara Radio helps them to talk about these problems and find solutions. I was really touched by the play that the young girls put on during our visit, which broached the topic of violence and sanitary conditions at school. I was extremely impressed by the courage and determination of these girls, for whom simply going to school every day is a battle.
This field experience, as well as being exceptionally rich on a human level, was crucial to allow me to understand the project and the fundamental role of the Foundation in working with the supported associations.