HEARMe (Health Education via Airwaves for Refugees)
East African refugees – now New Americans – and their Atlanta neighbors collaborated to create on-air, on-line, and on-stage productions promoting health and cultural understanding in their community. HEARMe, or Health Education via Airwaves for Refugees, held many community events, produced numerous radio shows, and created a wildly successful online drama. It broadcasts shows in Somali, Swahili, Amharic, and Bhutanese.
Scenes from Double-Double
A group of Somali friends gather for coffee and conversation. They talk about the Somali habit of taking double cream and double sugar in their coffee. They try to convince a newcomer, Ali, to reduce his intake of sugar and fats so he will become more healthy. But Ali has had many difficult things in his life and wants to hang on to this simple pleasure. He claps his hands to his head and replies
You have prepared my doomsday
Taking me closer to the grave! Do not create fear in me
Or put me into a depression!
Do not cause me to miss my coffee!
The danger in Mogadishu
With its marauding youth gangs,
the execution of victims in daylight,
And men touting machine guns—
Allah saved me from all that danger!
Do not now cause me miss my coffee!
by Dr. Omar Mohamed with help from his friends
Building the Sagal Radio production studio was a major achievement accomplished with the support of Prometheus Radio. This allowed HEARMe to produce many community radio programs and to share the facilities with Bhutanese and Nepali producers. Radio shows provided much-needed information on such topics such as H1N1 vaccines, female genitalia- mutilation, Hepatitis-B, and life as a refugee teen in America.
The team branched out to produce videos. The Double-Double video that can be found on the HEARMe webpage has been viewed over 69,000 times.
Not only did targeted media get made, broadcast, and disseminated through the web, but many project participants from all three organizations grew in their leadership and technical skills and in their cultural understanding.
Those from Emory University acted as provider of students, faculty and others who could help – not direct – HEARMe in the creation, production and dissemination of valuable media. WRFG’s staff trained members of Sagal Radio in FCC standards and editing and production techniques. In turn, they learned more about the East African people in their audience. Sagal Radio acted as the lynch-pin with the community, providing volunteer actors, program producers, connections to topic experts, and event hosts and volunteers.
By partnering with WRFG, Sagal staff and volunteers were able to receive expert technical training and extend the reach of their media.
This project was impressively successful for two simple reasons: those who worked on the project respected and helped one another – and — time after time, HEARMe partners and volunteers went the extra mile to extend the reach of the project. So, yes, the planned weekly radio show provided news, announcements, health and community information, and call-in conversations got done but the team did much, much more. They built a new production studio, trained new producers, including teen producers, created new shows, opened the studio to other refugee groups, produced very popular videos distributed via web and DVD, participated in countless community health events, networked with Somali communities across the country. HEARMe uses Flickr, the New Routes site, and Sagal Radio site to spread its information. HEARMe materials are used in Emory University courses. In fact, even though the New Routes initiative has all but ended, HEARMe is still going strong.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.