BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI– Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, a Burundian who lives in the capital city of Bujumbura, found himself needing to consult his trusted advisor about what job he should apply for next in his career dedicated to improving the lives of others. With the help of his advisor Rose, who also happens to be his wife, Jean Bosco decided to apply for a job with an international nonprofit looking to build a Burundian team for an entertainment-education project. The nonprofit was Population Media Center (PMC) and the task ahead was significant.
“There were many offers with tempting salaries, but I consulted my dear wife and advisor before making my final decision,” says Jean Bosco. “I wanted to lead a team using the values I had obtained through my various experiences. I wanted to pass those values to others, working together in productive, collaborative work.”
Jean Bosco accepted the job of Country Representative for PMC’s Burundi office, and he’s been building and leading a powerful team for behavior change ever since. PMC hires all local staffs to create long-running serial dramas for TV or radio that address social and health issues through entertainment. In Burundi, PMC began broadcasting Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”) in January 2014. The drama, which addresses issues such as family planning, HIV/AIDS, girls’ education, and gender equity, was recently independently evaluated by UNICEF and found to have an astounding national listenership of 76 percent.
“At this stage, PMC-Burundi is well known in every corner of the country through Agashi,” says Jean Bosco. “Agashi, according to listeners, is one of the two most popular dramas on Burundian airwaves. The messages we’ve received say that people not only love the themes being broadcast through Agashi, but that they are used as true teaching tools to help peer educators persuade and engage their fellow citizens. We are on a roll.”
PMC couldn’t agree more. The work and the impact stemming from the PMC-Burundi team has been growing, continually indicating successful progress in program popularity and impact.
“Getting people to take ownership of transformational messages through entertainment-education and empowerment is effective,” says Jean Bosco. “The approach works because audiences listen to stories that are connected to their everyday lives. Gradually, as people listen, they themselves become agents of change for those around them.”
The same could be said for Jean Bosco himself, whose leadership and personality directly impact the PMC-Burundi staff.
“Jean Bosco continues to use his multitude of skills to enhance and strengthen his team, the drama, and PMC’s process,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “His comprehensive knowledge of his team and the process, plus his unwavering dedication, propel the PMC-Burundi team and project forward.”
The PMC-Burundi staff underwent PMC’s in-country training and have followed the processes in place meticulously and understood PMC’s emphasis on innovation and empowerment at the local level. His leadership has allowed a number of useful additions to PMC’s process through the continued innovations of the staff, such as conducting monthly randomized phone calls to get timely and specific feedback to the writers to influence future scripts for Agashi.
“I love the sense of complementarity and togetherness that permeates the PMC staff. In our small team in Burundi – I call them the ‘Musketeers’,” says Jean Bosco, “everyone is ready to give one another support anytime there is need for it. I think the PMC model is to globally share the coaching and technical expertise of PMC headquarters—supervisory staff who are always predisposed to support the PMC national teams that are in the field worldwide. Personally, I really appreciate the confidence that PMC headquarters places in the staff of its country offices.”
Jean Bosco, who intended to study law, got his undergraduate degree in clinical and social psychology and then got his masters in development. His dedication to helping people, particularly the rural poor in Burundi, exacts a demanding schedule. Jean Bosco explains that his workdays are 12 or more hours long, which he says stems from his education, upbringing, and love of the work.
“All of the positions I have had allowed me to improve the lives of people by helping them to change their behavior,” he says. “From an early age, my education prepared me for loving work and being respectful to people. Some may find those responsibilities too heavy or difficult to carry when simply making a living, but I am determined to help young people develop altruistic values, proactivity, endurance, honesty and integrity because those principles are very difficult to teach to adults.”
Jean Bosco decided to apply for the job at PMC because of the opportunity to lead a team dedicated to improving the lives of his fellow Burundians and his dedication and excitement about that team and the team’s mission comes through every element of his work.
“In short, I am and have always been focused on the development concerns of the poor –in Burundi, especially the rural poor,” says Jean Bosco. “I hope with all my heart that, after three years, the project will have initiated a considerable amount of behavior change in the Burundian population, starting with the staff of PMC-Burundi itself.”
ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):
Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org