Population Media Center’s radio serial drama in Sudan went on the air November 22, 2004 after 2 years of preparation work. Titled Ashreat Al Amal (“Sails of Hope”), the Arabic language program deals with reproductive health issues. It will air for approximately 18 months (there are 150 episodes) over Khartoum Radio. The project is supported by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
The program deals with the major themes of HIV/AIDS education and the importance of educating women as a means to a better life, and the minor themes of female circumcision, negative consequences of too much drinking and gambling, and pre-natal care.
Through the characters of Hamid and Jabir, the program addresses the importance of reducing stigma of people living with HIV/AIDS and shows how one can interact with those who have AIDS. Hamid (a transitional character) is HIV positive and is refused a job by Jabir. Hamid’s wife’s former husband, Al Dai (another transitional character), comes to take his children away and declares that it is not safe for kids to live with someone who has AIDS. Later in the program, we will see that Jabir’s other evil-doings – stealing money, lying, blackmailing – lead to his assassination. Al Dai will grow to learn to accept people living with HIV/AIDS.
Through the character of Awatif, the program will address the issue of family planning and pre-natal care. Awatif, Hassan’s wife, suffers from acute anemia resulting from non-birth spacing, and repeated, prolonged bleeding from the births of her many children. She is in the process of delivering another child and encountering complications in delivery because she had become so run-down with running the household and having an office job while pregnant. After recovering from her terrible, but not lethal childbirth, Awatif slowly comes to realize that it is hard to pay the school fees for all of her children. Her former husband convinces her to take him back (he had left her to pursue another woman), but she agrees only if he will agree to use condoms. Hassan refuses. Awatif and Hassan will fight over this, but eventually Awatif will overcome.
Population Media Center is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to using media to aid the stabilization of human population numbers at a level that can be sustained by the world’s natural resources and to lessen the impact of humanity on the earth’s environment. Its work emphasizes education on the benefits of small families, elevation of women’s status, promotion of gender equity and encouragement in the use of effective family planning methods.
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