A Mighty Voice on the Airwaves

The goal of our research project is to understand radio’s role in communicating the 10 interventions of La Ventana de los Mil Días in communities most affected by chronic child malnutrition. FGER, the Guatemalan Federation of Radio Schools, is an educational and cultural chain of eight local radio stations that covers human rights issues in 13 indigenous languages. It is an entity that is very much in stark contrast to the large, private, Spanish-only radio stations that dominate Guatemala’s airwaves. So how does a group like this operate in such an environment? And how can it be better leveraged to improve the most affected (marginalized, rural, indigenous) population’s health? We met with FGER today to figure this out.  A couple highlights of our experience below. 

First, the FGER headquarters are beautiful. The compound is located in the historic zone of Guatemala City. The facility is a one-stop-shop for cultural and education multilingual programming. It includes a large conference room, dormitories that sleep 35 people, offices for personnel, a flowering courtyard, kitchen and a humble radio studio. Lucky us, we made it just in time to see the 11:00AM recording in Mayan K’iche’ and Spanish!

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Beyond the aesthetics, our conversation with FGER revealed that the future of the Federation is seeing new opportunities in unexpected places. The private sector now appears to be in conversation with FGER to start building a relationship. Historically, the private sector has been indifferent to indigenous communities and their issues, but now the subject of chronic child malnutrition in Guatemala is recognized as everyone’s responsibility. As a result, Guatemala’s uber high chronic malnutrition rates are increasing the connectivity among formally distant parties. A new lead!...that we can follow up on tomorrow and Friday when we meet with two private sector organizations. We’re eager to see if this unlikely yet potentially mutually beneficial alliance can really happen.

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Photos from Explorers in Guatemala.

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