Audio postcard: Using entertainment to prevent an Ebola outbreak

“Papa doctor, I beg of you. If you do not want my trouble you will give me my son’s corpse. We have to mourn and bury him. We have to mourn and bury our son,” begins the script Abena Dansoa Danso is writing. Abena Danso is a script writer with Farm Radio International in Ghana.

This is the first episode of a new series she’s working on about Ebola.

“Then the doctor says, ‘please take heart mother. But with all due respect, we cannot release your child’s body to you. You see, he died of a terrible disease which is a threat to the whole community and the country at large.”

Abena Danso usually writes scripts about farmers. But this story is all about a fictional community dealing with an Ebola outbreak. Mixed in with the plot is a breadth of information on the disease.

Abena Danso’s five part series has been distributed to Farm Radio partner radio stations all over Ghana, so broadcasters could translate the scripts into the local language and broadcast them.

Ghana has not had a case of Ebola. But the scripts can prepare Ghanians to recognize a potential case as well as debunk myths that could cause the disease to spread.

“Culturally, you have to groom a dead body and bury him for him to rest in peace. That is the belief of most of the communities in Ghana. We just want to let the people know that these things can actually cause an outbreak of the disease. and that when somebody dies, and they are buried without being groomed, the person will still rest in peace.”

Abena Danso says with all the information being given to West Africans about Ebola, it’s important that it’s presented in a way that people will listen up and remember it.

By creating a story and characters that listeners care about, they’re more likely to keep listening to the program and learn more.

“We need something more entertaining, more catchy to get our audience glued to the radio. It’s an easier way to get people to get information and still have fun,” said Abena Danso.

Marina von Stackelberg
About the author  
Marina von Stackelberg has just returned from Accra, Ghana where she interned with Farm Radio for three months. She’s has recently completed her degree in Carleton University’s undergraduate journalism program. Marina has a passion for radio and it’s ability to reach people regardless of geography or wealth. She knows firsthand how far radio can travel: Before interning with Farm Radio, she worked as a radio reporter with CBC Sudbury in northern Ontario. Her favourite part about Ghana was meeting local broadcasters and farmers. And of course eating fresh mangoes every day.

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