Provoking questions for change

“What kind of Christian am I? What is my role as a Christian? . . . What am I doing, in terms of my behaviour, to call myself a Christian?”

These are just some of the questions that radio programme producer, Henri-Pierre Koubaka hopes to provoke among Christian listeners using the new audio training resource which Feba is developing as part of the Voice of a Child project in DRC.

In Kinshasa, where the project is located, throughout DRC and beyond, many children are being accused of witchcraft, abandoned and left to survive on the streets. It is an issue that is fed by the popularity of Nollywood films which have the supernatural as a common theme, and endorsed by unscrupulous pastors who can make money by ‘delivering’ a child.

People can start seeing things in a different way

Henri-Pierre told us: “The church has a big role in it. A lot of pastors, so-called pastors, are the people who validate the accusations and they are the people the children are taken to for...some kind of deliverance.”

The audio training resource for churches is a way of raising awareness of the issue and of training pastors.

The resource covers seven themes, such as ‘The child as a gift from God’, and ‘Scapegoating and responsibility’. Each theme will be ten minutes long, starting with a three minute drama and including content from the children, social workers and pastors.

Youth reporters rehearsing drama

Henri-Pierre explains: “We are envisioning having a group who can sit down and listen to it and discuss it...talking about it so people can start seeing things in a different way.”

Drama helps people connect with issues 

Churches started using the audio training resource in January and we aim to collect their initial responses and feedback on the material to help further development. It is hoped that in the future the resource will be more widely distributed.

Programmes for broadcast

As well as the training resource, Henri-Pierre is also producing a 12 part series of one hour programmes for radio broadcast in order to raise awareness of the issue among the wider community. Like the training resource, each programme will include a radio drama. “Whether it’s for traditional reasons or contemporary reasons . . . drama helps people connect with issues in an easier way than a simple documentary or video would do for them,” explains Henri-Pierre.

The whole thing is the shake people up  

“People will be calling in, there will be debate, there will be questions, there will be vox pops, but the whole thing is to shake people up in terms of, ‘OK, what are we doing to these children? What is the real reason why we’re kicking them out of the house?’”

In producing the radio dramas, a scriptwriter used the street-living children’s real life stories and testimonies as content, and the children have been providing feedback to the actors. “It was very interesting to see them come to the actors and say, ‘no, no. . . that’s not how it happens. Let us show you how it really happens.’ So that makes me very happy to see that they’re following everything that’s being done.”

The street-living children’s input is not only important for the authenticity of the material but also for them to get their stories out and their voices heard. “They’re realising that they can have access to other people, they can tell their story to people who otherwise wouldn’t listen,” explains Henri-Pierre.