François sits in a chair on his front porch during the interview
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Astounding Effect of Characters

Jun 14, 2014

In Burkina Faso, François and his wife listen to a popular radio program, Yam Yankré (“The Choice”), when he gets home from work. François and his wife already have six children and they struggle to support and feed them. François explains that he and his wife were never able to attend school, and neither of them knew there were ways to avoid pregnancy. If it were not for Yam Yankré, François is sure that he and his wife would already have a seventh child.

Population Media Center (PMC) continuously reaches audiences around the globe through mass media. Burkina Faso, a country approximately the size of Colorado with a population of over 19 million located in Western Africa, is one country where PMC has worked.

PMC creates entertaining shows, like Yam Yankré, that engage audiences with authentic characters and culturally appropriate challenges and opportunities. François began listening because of his wife. He came home from work, and his wife said, “There is a François just like you in this story…you should listen.” In Yam Yankré, the transitional character’s name is François.

“I recognized myself in the character of François,” says the real-life François. “He is being pushed to have too many children without knowing what to do.”

PMC’s shows address numerous issues, ranging from reproductive health and family planning, to environmental preservation, to child protection. The goal of every program is to model various viewpoints and interpersonal communication, so that locals talk about the issues and ultimately make their own choices.

Listeners of Yam Yankré were 1.8 times more likely than non-listeners to use modern method of contraception to limit the number of children and be voluntarily tested for HIV.

Yam Yankré changed the future for François and his family. “Through Yam Yankré,” says François, “my wife and I learned that there are ways to keep from having children. I am very happy now because of this program.”