In 2011, Child to Child and their Sierra Leone-based partner Pikin to Pikin started a programme preparing pre-school children to enter primary school. Older children led learning activities to make sure that younger pupils started school “with basic foundations in literacy, numeracy, and the socio-emotional skills required for learning.”
When the Ebola epidemic hit in 2014, the project was brought to a halt. Since then, thousands of children have been orphaned. During the crisis, many older girls had to leave school to take care of their siblings and have been unable to resume their education, and teenage pregnancy increased by 65%.
During the epidemic, all schools were closed and most public congregations were banned. The project could not continue as it was originally designed, as it required children to come together in groups. This is why Child to Child turned to radio.
The Circle is supporting Child to Child and funding Under The Mango Tree, a new series of radio programmes created by girls, for girls.
In December 2014, the project was resumed under a new format – the Pikin to Pikin Tok radio programme, which means “Child to Child Talk” in Krio, the local language. 36 children have now been trained as journalists for the programme, creating content for children of different age groups.
Programmes for younger children include songs and traditional stories, which have been redesigned to address the issues that they are facing, improve their numeracy and literacy skills, and promote the importance of hand washing. Programmes for older children discuss topics such as teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse and other children’s rights violations that have become more frequent due to Ebola.
Hundreds of solar-powered radios have been distributed and listener groups have been set up to guide children’s debate about the topics that are discussed in the programmes.
Radio programmes addressed to adults are also being made with the intention of challenging prevailing prejudices towards girls.
Penny Boreham and Usifu Jalloh have travelled to Sierra Leone to meet the children of the Pikin to Pikin Tok project. Click here to listen to their full documentary.
To find out more about the project click here to read an article from the World Health Organisation for further details.
Under the Mango Tree: Radio Programmes for Girls
A donation from The Circle is enabling the girls from the Under The Mango Tree radio series to create twenty more programmes.
The series is designed for older girls and addresses issues that have emerged or become more frequent due to the Ebola crisis, such as stigma, exclusion, disability, teenage pregnancy, violence, gang rape and orphaned girls dropping out of school to take care of their siblings.
The programmes and the listener groups are designed to increase girls’ confidence and self-esteem and help them identify ways to address those challenges and end violence.
In the aftermath of the devastating Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, Finda, aged 10 and a pupil of RC Buedu, Kissi Tongi was left to face the harrowing reality of losing members of her family. Finda had always been timid and hardly spoke out, even when with peers or at play. Her caregiver had always overburdened her with domestic chores, which resulted in poor academic performance.
Finda was trained as a Young Journalist and particularly using the audio recorders. Following her participation in Pikin to Pikin Tok, her teacher reports that her academic performance has gradually improved. She can also now help children by simply listening and sitting next to them, holding their hands or being close, and cheering them up with jokes and stories. Her life has been transformed.