We use radio to amplify youth voices across Africa, giving them the skills and tools to speak about their lives
Ruth Imonga is a young reporter from the Mbandaka Youth Reporters in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the recent radio trainings that promotes the rights of children, Ruth reports that she no longer experiences discrimination against the Batwa (Pygmy) people.
About 4 months into the CRF radio project that aims to promote the rights of children, in particular the indigenous youth, Ruth says she can now sit next Batwa youths, chat and eat with them without feeling awkward. This is a powerful transformation for this young women! Read the interview to find out more:
Tell us if there is any difference in your life between before and after joining the project.
Ruth: Yes, there’s a big difference because there are many things, which I did not know before that I now know. For instance the utilization of the recorder, I did not know, but now I can even take a recorder and use it alone somewhere.
What important lesson can you remember from the training?
Ruth: An important lesson for me is the one on removing discrimination between Batwa and Bantu. I used to avoid even seating next to a Batwa youth, but in the training we were all mixed, and so I have learnt to accept them without any discrimination. I can now seat and eat with Batwa without any problem.
Have you boosted your critical thinking and self-confidence from the training?
Ruth: Yes. I used to shake and avoid speaking in public, but since the training I can be tasked with interviewing and speaking up in public without fear.
What about in your family and in your community? Any addition?
Ruth: Yes. I did not know my rights before, but now in my family I know that I have rights to education, to health care, etc. I also know the community should educate me and support me in my life.
What can be done to further help you master that knowledge?
Ruth: I think you should come again to train us. Even after we’re gone, continue training more youth to help them learn what we learnt and continue improving.
You were trained on the children’s rights. What’s your understanding of the subject?
Ruth: I understand that every child has rights, and those rights must be respected by the state, by parents and the entire community. It’s about what must be done for you, so the state should provide free education where parents can’t afford children’s education to ensure that this right is put to action.
Do you think that Batwa youths also know about their rights?
Ruth: Not all of them. Those who attended the training with us know their rights and know that they should stand up for them, and that people should apply these rights. Others who live maybe in villages don’t know their rights. All they know is maybe to wake up and go to work hard in the farm, cutting woods and come back home. Even if they make him work hard, he won’t apply his rights. But those who are here do know that they should wake up and go to school, and not to work in farms.
What can be done to ensure that they know their rights and that you master them too?
Ruth: just as I said before, we need further trainings. And Batwa youth need to be enrolled in the project. Recruitment should not end here in Mbandaka, but go in other territories where Batwa live, and teach them about their rights and that they can also become just like Bantu if they apply their rights.
What do you think is your role as a youth reporter? And how would your radio shows help your community, elders and youngsters?
Ruth: First of all my role is to be the voice of thousands. I must speak up for the rights of youth to be respected in the country, in their community, in the family and everywhere they would be. Our shows help a lot. We have already received a lot of testimonies from parents who sent their children to farms instead of school, but changed their mind after listening to our shows. From our shows, some testified about stopping to send their children selling at nights.
Do you think that this project is changing people’s negative attitudes towards Batwa? Give an example.
Ruth: The one example I may use is mine. I could not even stand sitting next to a Batwa, but that discrimination is gone, we can sit, talk and eat together.
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