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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
DR Congo station bags top award
Radio Canal Revelation presenter
Radio Canal Revelation reaches an audience of 200,000
A small community radio station in Democratic Republic of Congo has won the Special Award at the One World Media Awards in London.

Richard Pituwa, founder of Radio Canal Revelation, accepted the prestigious prize at a ceremony on Thursday.

Operating on a tiny budget the station provides news, civic education, health and music programmes to the north-eastern town of Bunia.

Previous recipients of the award include the BBC World Service.

Voiceless

"We feel very small in the face of this very big thing," said Mr Pituwa to a crowded audience of broadcasters, filmmakers, aid agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Workers at Radio Canal Revelation
Volunteers from different sides of the community work for the radio
The station was started in 2000 during ethnic fighting between Hema and Lendu militias, when "many people found themselves voiceless", Barry Sesnan from the United Nations Development Programme told the BBC.

"Youths no longer had jobs... and many opted to become combatants.

"But a small group decided they would do something about it and set up a little a radio station which they created from old mobile phone handsets, old bits of wire and large amounts of spirit," he said.

It reaches 200,000 people in and around Bunia and is especially aimed at the young, and has become a lifeline for many in this remote region.

Radio Canal Revelation has become an important barometer of the opinions of young people, who communicate regularly with the station.

"As mobile phones have come there, have even been people phoning in with questions about Aids and the peace process," Mr Sesnan said.

Gates of Radio Canal Revelation in Bunia
The station provides a link in reuniting families dispersed by conflict
Run by some 70 volunteers from all sides of the community, the station is also used by the UN as part of its reconciliation work.

Broadcasting in French, Swahili and Lingala, the station continued to air its programmes throughout the ethnic disputes, aiming to remain neutral.

Child winners

Meanwhile, a Congolese non-governmental organisation, Search for Common Ground, has won an award presented by One World and Unicef for its children's radio programmes produced by and for children.

Their programme Sisi Watoto, which in Swahili means We the Children, is produced and presented by teenagers in eastern DR Congo drawn from different backgrounds including child soldiers.

"Children understand each other better. An adult cannot communicate in the same way because he doesn't know their preoccupations," Aline Bahati one of the programme's young journalists said.


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
26 May 04  |  Country profiles


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