Jonas Chindamba walked 104 miles from his home village in Zambia to the Mpika Community Radio station to pick up a T-shirt representing his favorite radio show. This journey takes four days by foot and includes passage through North Luangwa National Park, home to wild animals such as lions, elephants, and black rhinos. This remarkable audience commitment distinguishes the non-profit producers responsible for Kwishilya (“Over the Horizon”).
Jonas’ favorite show was produced by Population Media Center (PMC), a global leader in entertainment education, working to improve reproductive health, girls’ education, and environmental sustainability around the world. Founded in 1998, the charity’s radio, TV, and internet programs have impacted over 500 million people in more than 50 countries. Key characters in PMC’s fictional dramas evolve into role models for audiences, sharing transformational information and encouraging personal growth and exploration.
Jonas, a listener of Kwishilya (“Over the Horizon”), is a 35-year-old husband, father, and farmer in the Nabwalya area, Mpika district, Muchinga Providence. He became an avid follower of the PMC-produced drama and actively participated in call-in programs at the end of each episode.
“Jonas’ story is a reflection on how Kwishilya is more than just a storyline meant for entertainment — it’s making an actual difference in people’s lives, even more than we expected,” says Mwaka Naminga, PMC-Zambia’s Marketing and Communications Manager. “Not only the lives of the listeners but the lives of the communities around them, which is proof that the PMC methodology really works.”
Kwishilya is a 156-episode radio show produced by the PMC-Zambia team addressing education, child marriage, reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health, and gender-based violence. It ran in various community stations in the Muchinga, Luapoula, and Central Provinces from January 2019 to July 2020 and is in Bemba, the most widely spoken and understood language in the broadcast areas.
Jonas describes his 104-mile journey as long and strenuous, having to spend nights in the homes of others along the way to avoid encounters with wild animals.
When asked what motivated him to make the treacherous expedition to collect the T-shirt prize, Jonas shared that Kwishilya affected his personal life. As a parent teacher association member, he has witnessed many child marriages and abuse toward young women and girls and the show provided a tool to open community conversation around these issues. The twice-weekly show helped him grow and evolve as an individual, too – from an abusive husband to a caring partner helping enact change in his community.
Upon his return to his home village, Jonas created a radio show listening group called Kalimba. Kalimba – comprised of 10 members, with men and women equally represented – uses a solar radio and flash drive containing episodes Jonas received from PMC to listen the episodes. Jonas makes occasional treks back to the radio station for additional groups of episodes as they are produced so Kalimba can continue to listen together. They discuss each episode of Kwishilya, discovering not only how the characters grapple with family planning and maternal health, but also how their community can address these issues and more on a local level.
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