Radio program motivates youth to re-enroll in school
Habiba’s Story: How a radio program motivated her to continue her dream for education
Girls and women are often disproportionately affected by conflict and humanitarian crisis, oftentimes resulting in them having to make disadvantaged decisions to survive. This is the story of a woman named Habiba Muhammed, who experienced first hand insurgency and conflict, causing her to drop-out of school. However, she was able to re-enroll years after to pursue her dream for education.
Habiba is the eldest child of four siblings. According to Habiba, this means she has to set the pace and a good example for her siblings. However, she was forced to drop out after completing primary school because of serious financial challenges that hit her family as a result of the insurgency.
She resorted to petty trading, hawking kerosene, and sometimes cow milk around her community to survive and support her parents. However, the business was short-lived as it was barely enough to sustain her basic needs and instead her only option was to marry someone who could take care of her at the age of 16. Unfortunately, Habiba endured ill-treatment during her marriage and still was not able to attend school. Things eventually got so bad, she got divorced.
A new lease on life
Undefeated, Habiba was able to get a job working in a restaurant in Maiduguri, the capital town of Borno State, where she got picked as a participant of the female youth Radio Listening Group (RLG) for the Mercy Corps Nigeria UAS-LCB program. She was picked for her passion for radio and willingness to participate in discussions around de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DRR) and other key matters concerning the lives of people in her community.Habiba confessed that even before the radio listening groups were established, she had been listening to radio programs sponsored by Mercy Corps and was privileged to learn many things, including the importance of education.
After listening to a series of interesting programs, Habiba developed interest in the ‘Moving Forward’ and ‘My culture, My people’ radio program themes. They resonated with her as the programs promote culture, good morals, business ideas, new beginnings, and forgiveness. She share that she enjoys them more because the programs are aired in both Kanuri and Hausa.
Habiba says her life started changing when she listened to one of the episodes of ‘Moving Forward’ on adult education, which shared a story about a young girl like her. The story talks about how she started attending school at an older age and was able to acquire more knowledge because of her resolve to go back to school.
Habiba says she thought to herself, “so, even if a person is grown-up like me, they could further their education?” She said that it was at that point that she took a bold decision to not let the unfortunate events that had happened to her affect her chances of thriving. She recollected a time she went to the bank to open an account for herself but was unable to write her name and other key information. She vowed from that moment on that she would go back to school.
At the age of 22 years, Habiba e-enrolled in school with help from the advice in the radio program she listened to. She now attends a secondary school within her community called ‘Women Day’ - an adult education school. Habiba is excited about the progress she is making, being able to learn how to read and write.
An inspiration for others
She is happy to be a source of motivation to her community members, who are surprised to hear about her going back to school. She recounted a time she updated a picture of herself in school uniform on her WhatsApp status and uploaded it to her Facebook page, which elicited people’s happiness with her progress to continue school.
Habiba was last seen during the radio listening group refresher training, in a complete school uniform to show Mercy Corps how the program has transformed her life. In her words, “this program, has really transformed me, I have learned how to forgive and let go. Education is very important as it teaches discipline and good morals. Every youth should go to school or find something doing, my parents are also very happy to see me go back to school.”
There are many other youth just like Habiba who want to transform their lives but would only be able to with the right support and encouragement, considering the devastating events they have been through in the hands of insurgency. UAS-LCB radio program ‘Moving Forward’ is one such key resources needed by young people to steer the path to take bold steps.
About the UAS-LCB Program
Mercy Corps Nigeria Using the Airwaves for Stability in the Lake Chad Basin (UAS-LCB) program uses radio programming as a tool for promoting positive narratives about reintegration and reconciliation, while also representing real, local experiences and creating opportunities for communities to air their concerns and needs. It aims to build community trust and transform the community by changing their perception through messages around forgiveness, peace, business skills and other radio programs to help them better understand the changing dynamics around de-radicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration.