Laos National Radio and UNICEF support a weekly radio program ran by youngsters in Luang Prabang. The show, “Smile of Hope,” is part of a four-year-old initiative that is giving young people a chance to reach out to others like themselves, via the airwaves.
Going live on air tends to be a nerve-wracking experience. But there’s a quiet assurance about the youngsters who run this weekly radio show in provincial Laos. The program is called “Smile of Hope.” It's part of a four-year-old initiative, run by Lao National Radio with backing from UNICEF, that’s giving young people like Pany and Denphachanh a chance to reach out to others like themselves, via the airwaves.
PANY [Laos Youth Radio]
Up until now, we’ve done programs about immunization, but soon we will include other issues like hygiene and sanitation, avian flu, and education.
DENPHACHANH [Laos Youth Radio]
There’s nothing sensitive, even when we talk about drug addiction, it's acceptable for the youth program.
When they’re not in the studio, the youth radio team is going out to the community, using their skills as live performers to promote the same messages that they put on the air. The puppet show is always a big hit, especially with the younger members of the audience. Events like this, spread over a weekend to ensure maximum participation, are designed to change the habits and beliefs of centuries, and thereby boost the health and well being of children. Humor is a key weapon in getting the message across. Here, the radio team plays the part of seven childhood diseases that are vanquished thanks to the power of immunization. But even while the show goes on, Pany and another colleague are back in the role of radio reporters, gathering the interviews and other material they will need for their next show. It’s in encounters like this, with ordinary villagers, that the impact of their work becomes clear.
HOUMPANH VITHAYAPHONE [Luang Prabang Radio]
It’s very important that young people here in Luang Prabang can contribute in providing information about immunization and other issues that affect the social and economic development of the province.
This is only one of ten provincial stations now hosting youth programs, in addition to a national youth radio show that was launched recently. Clear evidence that in Laos, the power of youth radio is yet to be fully tapped. This is Simon Ingram in Laos, reporting for UNICEF. Unite for children.