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“Here they have a chance to tell people their story” – a Q&A with two hosts of Red Cross Children’s Hospital’s child reporter-driven radio station, RX Radio

Nal’ibali Column 17: term 3

By Carla Lever

At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, children are empowered to tell their own stories through RX Radio: a child reporter-driven radio station. Amirah and Hakeem talk to us about why no-one’s too young to author their own story.

Amirah (16) presents her own show and helps train new reporters.

 

Hakeem (17) is both a reporter and an apprentice.


 
Thanks for doing this interview. What’s it like to be asked the questions instead of asking them?

Hakeem: It’s quite weird as all my questions are prepared way before the interview. Now that I’m being interviewed, I understand now the pressure the interviewees must be feeling on my shows!

What does your job at RX radio involve? Is it fun?

Amirah: It’s so much fun working here at RX Radio. I present and script my show but I also help with training the new reporters.
Hakeem: It’s definitely super fun. As a reporter, I come up with content for my shows and collect Vox Pops because it’s nice to know how other people feel about things. I’m also an apprentice, which means editing different shows, training new recruits and covering different events.

Why do you think telling stories and sharing experiences is helpful for kids when they’re at Red Cross?

Amirah: It could help them become more confident and comfortable in telling their stories and come to grips with their health condition. Other kids with the same condition might also understand more.
Hakeem: Here they have a chance to tell people their story – even if it’s traumatizing or painful – and get it off their chest. They are constantly surrounded by children with different, and sometimes similar, illnesses and feel almost immediately at home and at ease at RX Radio.

How many patients and children work at RX?

Amirah: RX Radio has trained 67 child reporters.

Do you have to be a loud, outgoing person to be on radio?

Amirah: No, you don’t. In the beginning I was very quiet, but after a few weeks, months I came out of my shell and now I’m confident.
Hakeem: Not everyone is able to be like that and we don’t want anyone to be left out. So we’d usually allow all the children to take part in many different roles, such as reading the news or sports or participating in Vox Pops.

Often, doctors don’t see people unless they are sick. Why do you think it’s important and exciting for kids to be able to interview doctors who are helping them?

Hakeem: This way they feel more comfortable with their health care workers and build up a good relationship with them. In most interviews, they’ll disclose personal experiences which allows the child to think of as a friend.

Do the kids at RX get to choose what kinds of stories and features they make?

Amirah: Yes, they do. You get to choose what show and features you want.
Hakeem: Most definitely. The staff at RX Radio aim to be as little involved as possible. I’ll support, but the material comes mainly from the children themselves.

What are the most important skills kids would need to work at RX?

Amirah: Well they should be able to be social and confident enough to talk to someone face to face and be able to share their stories.
Hakeem: Also using a field recorder, which is important for someone on radio.

Amirah, I love your Hot Playlist – I listened a little while I was at work. And Hakeem, I can’t wait to hear some top tips on the outdoors from your show. What does it feel like to have a whole hour to tell people across the world stories about things you’re passionate about?

Amirah: It’s always nice to have time to share your favourite things, even if you’re not confident enough to share it with people closer to you. I’ve also met and interviewed so many new people during that one hour. And have listened to lots of amazing stories from Nal’ibali.

I know there are libraries and book clubs available at Red Cross. Can you tell me a little about the “Books and Breakfast” with Yusrah?

Amirah: In Yusrah’s show she talks about books she has read, interviews authors and talks about new books that have come out.
Hakeem: Yusrah’s sister Naseerah features in her show as well. She tells riddles and sometimes discusses books too.

There are people from so many different backgrounds at Red Cross. Do you use different languages at RX, or is it all in English?

Amirah: We mainly use English.
Hakeem: … but children are allowed to do things in their own language.

What advice would you give to kids who feel they have a story to tell the world?

Amirah: Well, they could always contact us and we will help them tell their stories.
Hakeem: Speak to your parents and tell them how you feel and I’m sure they will make sure you have a chance to tell your story. Also RX Radio will always be willing to hear your story and play it on air.

How can people tune in to listen?

Amirah: Children in the hospital can just switch to RX Radio but for outside listeners, they can stream us on www.rxradio.co.za.
Hakeem: They can also search RX Radio on Twitter or Facebook. We even have an app in the Play Store for download!

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org.

 

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