Wednesday, January 23, 2013
After years of civil war it is more peaceful than ever in Burundi. People feel safe and together they are rebuilding the country. Young Burundians play an important role in this process, but mainstream media hardly report on this nor broadcast their views. For this reason Free Press Unlimited has set up a radio-platform, by and for Burundian youth. To discuss war traumas? Not particularly Free Press Unlimited trainer Redouan Harrak's strategy. 'That's not efficient here. These youngster are very much focused on their future. The best remedy for war trauma's is a positive format!'

Not war, but music and traveling are themes Burundian youngsters want to integrate in their radio-platform, which they have named 'I have a place'. Young Burundians now have their own medium. They have set up a forum, in which they discuss their burning issues. On the question 'Is life in Europe better than in Burundi?' their opinions are very divided. 'Life in France is better!', shouts someone. 'No, we have to build up our own country!', shouts someone else. During the first workshops, organized in April 2012, adult media-professionals were trained to take the youth's perception as the main priority. Harrak: 'In Burundi there were no media in which both adults and youth were involved. This new cooperation is going very smoothly.' In July the youngsters were given a basic-training, focused on technique, but also on thinking about formats interesting to young people.

These brainstorm sessions lead to very interesting items during the final magazine productions in December, of which “traveling” was the main theme. A good example is the story of a boy who has traveled on his moped from his hometown Bubanza to the nation's capital Bujumbura. Along the way he beautifully illustrates his experiences in the jungle, conversations with locals and eventually the overwhelming city of Bujumbura. Harrak: 'The young journalists are very outspoken and creative. They have so much positive energy'. This project in Burundi is part of Conn@ctNow, an alliance by War Child Holland, Free Press Unlimited, Child Helpline International, TNO and T-mobile. Objective: to support the position of youth in (post)conflict-areas and giving them a voice in everyday media. Apart from Burundi, Conn@ctNow is active in Colombia, Sudan and Uganda.