After construction delays due to COVID-19, we are happy to report that the Kakuma station is broadcasting! The station extends TWR programs to the people of Kakuma Refugee Camp (mostly refugees from South Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, among others). Kakuma is home to 250,000 refugees and asylum seekers from thirty-nine different countries, with the numbers growing daily.
The station went live on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, and has been gaining popularity with listenership growing each day. The initial signal monitoring revealed that the output reaches nearly 60km farther than expected. When the main power is connected to supplement the solar power, the team will increase the power to 1000W, which will allow the station to reach into some parts of South Sudan. Below are some of the first responses from new listeners:
“My name is Mathew, and I heard the radio for the first time this morning. When I tuned in, it played easily. Now I am hooked. I really love it, and I can't stop listening. I love the gospel songs and as I have listened, I have been blessed.”
"Five Stars! We are really happy! The signal is very audible and nice. What a wonderful radio station."
Based on the responses received through the live studio line, most listeners are refugees. Some of them are motorbike taxi drivers who occasionally drive TWR staff to work. Others sell vegetables and different products in the open-air market along the main roads. Through conversation and observation, TWR staff are determining the kinds of specific programs they can provide for listeners. Psychological support programs, educational programs on relationships, HIV/AIDS as well as Bible teaching programs will benefit the camp.
The issue of education is of great concern in the Turkana region, where the love of livestock overrides the love of education. Family life rotates around livestock, and children help take care of the animals. Families are hesitant to send their children to school. Parents insist on keeping the most intelligent of their kids at home, as they are seen as responsible enough to look after between 100-300 goats and sheep, making sure that none escape. The other children are permitted to attend school.
In conversations with the child grazers, TWR staff have observed and confirmed what is said about them. Most of them are very intelligent. Philip, one of the boys who grazes animals around the radio compound, has been able to assemble broken pieces of radio parts picked from the trash. He has been able to make a radio out of them and he is now able to listen to the broadcasts. He knew each of the presenters by name and the show they host even before meeting them. He says he would one day like to be an engineer.
“These are just some of the needs of our listeners that we have observed in the short time that we have been on air,” said TWR Kenya staff. “Other issues affecting the community are early marriage and constant famines due to little or no rain. We thank God that we are here on the ground. As we continue to interact with our audience, we know we shall discover more needs and will endeavour to speak life and trust God to provide all we need.”
On November 11, 2020, the station was dedicated. The dedication was attended by three of TWR Kenya's management team, as well as local pastors. After speeches, there was a time of prayer where each pastor prayed live on the air. Afterwards, each guest planted a tree to commemorate the day and left with a gift of a Bible and Christian literature to read.
Praise God for this new radio station that will minister to the people at Kakuma! We look forward to sharing more stories of impact in the coming months.