Entertainment and information are what the radio station DIBUNOKO YAKERA provides, created by the Warao Indigenous in the Janokoida Shelter, which is under the management of the Fraternity – International Humanitarian Federation (FIHF), in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in the municipality of Pacaraima, in Roraima.
Bóris López, a missionary of the Fraternity – Humanitarian (FIHF) and one of the organizers of the project, explains that “DIBUNOKO” means “to speak,” “communicate,” and “YAKERA” is a word with many meanings (that in linguistics is called a “bus word”), but all in the sense of something good, which would be something like the Portuguese word “legal” (cool), or “bacana” (nice). In the context of the radio, the name can be translated as “Nice Radio,” or “Cool Radio.”
The activity began in a spontaneous way, with some of the Warao refugees using the microphone and a sound box that the shelter has for communicating.
Since May, a daily program has been transmitted to the whole shelter. Today the radio has 12 announcers and three DJs: they take turns during the week runing the program, which lasts about an hour and a half and is presented by two people.
The program includes interviews, music, news about the sports championships, about health, and other important announcements of the shelter, such as the activities of the week or the day.
“It is an immediate means of communication and the shelters have the minimum equipment to put the activity into play. It also fills the need for activities in the shelter; it is a way of occupying the mind,” explains Bóris.
Another missionary, Imer, also points out that “the radio seeks to improve communications and consequently, coexistence in a shelter where about 500 people live.”
Besides entertainment being a form of expression, the radio is an opportunity for discovering the talents and potentials of the people in the shelter, who are stimulated to participate in some way with the subject matters related to the community. It also contributes to the development of new abilities in the radio announcers who volunteered for the activity.
At this time, as an alternative to the training and the qualifications of the announcers, the shelter has organized sessions for the transmission of classroom videos, available free of charge on YouTube, about announcing and radio programs.
The idea, explains Bóris, is that the project can also grow beyond the locality: “We want to put the radio on the internet, so that anybody can listen, anywhere. It is our aspiration.”
According to Imer, putting live radio on the internet would also make it possible for, “the indigenous Warao immigrants that are in different cities and states of Brazil to be ‘connected,’ and in this way, keep their culture, and mainly their original language, alive, since the programs are transmitted in the Warao language and in Spanish.”
To improve the quality of the initiative, the radio also looks for support to buy equipment, such as a sound table, computer, and more sound boxes.
Competition for podcasts
The Warao announcers are working together with six SoundUp projects, from the Spotify platform, that will select 20 black and indigenous youths from Brazil to offer training, workshops, and support in the putting together of a podcast project, a format of radio programs recorded for the internet.
After the training between the months of August and September, ten of the 20 finalists will be chosen for on-site classes in Sao Paulo. The winners will also win technical equipment and access to the internet to give continuity to the project.
The Importance of Communication
Popular and community communication is developed as an important tool in guaranteeing human rights, enabling access to information and news production, giving a voice to traditional communities, social movements, vulnerable groups and minorities. In short, it represents a space for the democratic participation of the population, who can tell their stories and share information useful to their groups.
Another example of initiative in this sense is the communal newspaper “Deje Nome,” created in the Pintolândia Shelter, in Boa Vista, by the Warao and E’ñepa indigenous as a way of combating the fake news related to ethnicities, and transmitting important information to those in the shelters.