Powerful change takes time. Social justice requires shifting numerous aspects within our communities and within our individual perspectives. Population Media Center, a nonprofit leader in…
Christina Guérin: A lifetime of storytelling for social good
Step into the vibrant world of Christina Guérin, a woman whose heart has always belonged to the enchanting realm of radio. From a tender age, radio coursed through her veins, leaving an impression on her spirit.
In Haiti, a place rich with culture and resilience, Guérin found solace and inspiration at her mother’s side within the walls of the local radio station. Mona Guérin, the late and beloved matriarch, hosted a captivating show called Roye les Voila (“Here They Come”). Guérin flourished as a part of her mother’s show, being given the opportunity to portra various characters in the family drama.
Life unfolded in exciting ways, and Guérin’s path led her to Population Media Center (PMC), a beacon of hope and change. Here, she now stands as the Country Director in Haiti, a role that intertwines her love for radio and her unwavering dedication to making a difference.
In 2013, now as a member of the PMC global team, Guérin created the awe-inspiring radio show Zoukoutap (“To Limp”). The 78-episode radio show delved into the harrowing topics of child slavery, reproductive health, and family planning, resonating deeply with the hearts of the Haitian people. The program was so popular, PMC produced two sequels, Zoukoutap 2 and Zoukoutap 3, captivating large audiences and achieving significant impact – solidifying Guérin’s faith in PMC’s transformative methodology.
“I was very impressed with PMC’s methodology and its success. PMC took my basic knowledge of social radio-drama writing and production to a whole new level,” Guérin says. “I needed a methodology to work with to make sure there were measurable results. PMC’s methodology gave me exactly what I was looking for: an extraordinary tool for behavior change.”
PMC, with its innovative approach, armed Guérin with a profound tool for effecting behavioral change. The fusion of entertainment and education became her weapon, empowering individuals to embrace healthier lives and fostering shifts in societal norms.
With each production, Guérin witnessed firsthand the immense power of mass communication to shape destinies and ignite societal progress. It was a familiar ground she walked upon, a space where she felt a profound connection to the purpose that radiated from her very core.
“Mass communication through entertainment can create real impacts and influence social norms. That’s what PMC’s work is about, and it’s very familiar ground for me,” Guérin says.
Even before PMC and after working with her mother, Guérin left her indelible mark on the airwaves. At 23, she created and hosted a daily radio column that mixed civic life, gender issues, and child protection. A few years later, she hosted a daily program with guest experts addressing important health topics. Aware of the value radio brings to local communities, she was also instrumental in launching a radio station for which she was program director for two years. She also founded Village Sante, a small company dedicated to social communication and communication for health. Every step of her journey is a testament to her unwavering commitment to amplifying essential conversations.
In her current role as Country Director for PMC-Haiti, Guérin serves many roles overseeing the country strategy and project implementation. She also serves as the main program producer, leveraging her honed skills acquired over years of practice.
“Production isn’t part of the typical Country Director role, but that’s what led me to PMC, and that’s what I believe is my main talent,” she says.
But the rest of PMC knows that production is only one of the many talents she brings to her role. Her unwavering energy and entrepreneurial spirit run through everything she does. Her goals within PMC include exploring the expansion of programming to platforms like YouTube, social media, and television, while tailoring content to engage a younger audience.
Haiti presents a unique set of challenges, but Guérin is up for the challenge.
“There are huge problems in Haiti that are difficult to solve. The implementation, management, and sustainability of our projects in this failing political, economic, social, and security context is a big challenge. However, being able to create, produce, and broadcast under such circumstances a program with measurable impacts is a huge satisfaction,” Guérin says. “It’s not an easy job, but the results justify all the efforts.”
The results of PMC’s efforts may be hard-won, but they do indeed justify every ounce of dedication and determination.
The enthusiastic feedback from program listeners serves as a constant well of motivation for Guérin. She takes immense pride in the success of the Zoukoutap programs, particularly Zoukoutap 3, which was developed during a time of heightened instability in Haiti.
“We were able to complete Zoukoutap 3 in a very complicated and unsafe environment and entertain our listeners, while impacting the behavior of hundreds of thousands of people — this when they needed it the most,” she says.
When not immersed in PMC’s transformative work, Guérin indulges in her other passions. She recently dabbled in stand-up comedy, assuming the personas of characters she created, with her favorite being the sassy Tante Margo (Auntie Margo).
“If you see me laughing for no apparent reason, it’s probably because of something she would have said that I can’t say out loud,” she notes.
In her spare time, Guérin enjoys cooking, writing, and reading. She’s also a fan of certain TV shows, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” whose creator and producer, Shonda Rhimes, she admires. She also picked up drawing during the pandemic and drew inspitation from items in her home.