On June 27th people danced in the sun at Marasa Umubano Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda to celebrate a new radio show. The Rwandan team for the Population Media Center was launching Umurage (“Inheritance for a Better Future”), a radio drama which not only features enticing storytelling but also aims to improve people’s lives.
Umurage is a 156-episode radio serial drama that broadcasts three times per week on eight different radio stations throughout Rwanda in Kinyarwanda, a national language. Umurage will have engaging storylines that draw listeners back to hear what happens next, and it will also incorporate positive, negative, and transitional characters. These different characters, and the realistic situations they find themselves in, will provide different perspectives and very different consequences for differing actions. The actions will revolve around every day decisions – like family relationships, dating, and sex – but underlying these normal encounters are themes around gender equality, reproductive health, and child labor and trafficking.
“What affects a child’s well-being also hinders the country’s future development,” said Uwababyeyi Benelde, a representative from the Rwandan National Commission of Children at the Umurage celebration. “I am optimistic that messages in this drama will add to the government’s effort to protect [children’s] rights, once disseminated to a wider audience.”
Population Media Center (PMC) is a US nonprofit that creates entertainment around the world to reach huge audiences with important messages. By using behavior change science and following a specific production methodology, PMC is able to see tangible results in people’s behavior and beliefs surrounding complicated social and human rights issues. One of the important aspects of PMC’s approach is hiring all local writers, actors, and producers.
PMC has been working in Rwanda since 2007 and previously produced two popular radio dramas, each addressing a variety of issues. Umurage Urukwiye (“Rwanda’s Brighter Future”) has been broadcast twice and resulted in a remarkable 49 percent of listeners reporting that they talked to a spouse or a partner about family planning. Listeners were also 2.7 times more likely than non-listeners to know their HIV status.
PMC’s other drama, Impano N’Impamba (“A Gift For Today That Will Last a Long Time”), resulted in solid strides toward gender equality with listeners being 3.2 times more likely than non-listeners to disagree with the statement “it is a waste of time and money to have girls study to a higher level” and 1.7 times more likely than non-listeners to think that a woman has the right to refuse sex to her husband or partner.
PMC hopes Umurage will meet or exceed the impact of these previous radio shows in Rwanda by engaging listeners with good stories that also impart life-changing information.
ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):
Population Media Center is a nonprofit leader in entertainment-education, dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, population stabilization, and the environment. For the past two decades, PMC’s entertainment programming has promoted social and cultural change and has helped 500 million people in more than 50 countries.