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Popular Radio Drama Aims to Stop Child Slavery

Oct 19, 2015

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT – What happens when you take a popular serial drama and you put it on more than 40 radio stations, including one of the most popular radio stations in Haiti? You draw huge crowds of avid listeners, including more than 450,000 Haitians that tune in weekly.

That’s what happened with Population Media Center’s radio serial drama, Zoukoutap (“To Limp”). Zoukoutap, a 78-episode drama, aired September 2013-July 2014. It proved incredibly popular, but wasn’t on Haiti’s most listened-to radio stations. However, its popularity paved the way for a rebroadcast that could reach even more people.

From September 2014-March 2015, Zoukoutap was rebroadcast in nationwide on over 40 stations, including Radio Caraibes, one of the most popular stations in the country.

The results from the rebroadcast spoke for themselves. At the end of broadcast, nearly one third (31 percent) of respondents had heard of Zoukoutap, indicating a total listener reach of approximately 1.5 million Haitians. Results also indicated that approximately 700,000 Haitians listened to one or more episodes of Zoukoutap and 450,000 Haitians listened to Zoukoutap weekly.

Of course, listenership isn’t remarkable until you learn about the purpose and construction of the drama. Zoukoutap is one of many dramas around the world produced by Population Media Center (PMC). PMC creates these dramas for one reason: to inform and educate large groups of people by using something everybody loves, a good story.

Zoukoutap, as all PMC dramas, incorporates a number of health, environmental, and social issues into its storylines. One of the most prominent issues in Zoukoutap is Haiti’s restavek system, which impacts approximately 300,000 children. Parents unable to provide for their children give their kid(s) to another family. The receiving family is supposed to provide the children with food, shelter, and access to an education. Unfortunately, many children never get an education or barely get food and shelter. It places the child into a form of child slavery.

“Some of the scenes can be very difficult to listen to,” says Christina Guérin, Zoukoutap’s producer. “You can imagine what sounds we have to include when our child actress is in violent situations in order to have that be understood. And we have an incredible child actress, which makes it much more real and much harder to hear. And these things are happening in real life, which is why we need to address these issues.”

Zoukoutap also addresses issues such as adolescent reproductive health, family planning, gender equality, child and maternal health, deforestation, and disease prevention. The incredible popularity has resulted in a second season of Zoukoutap that launched in May 2015. It will address some of the same issues and will introduce some new issues.