Adolescents participate in television and radio to promote change in communities
Valdemiro Eliseu Bimo is fit and strong just like any other teenager. Underneath this bulky adolescent frame, wrapped in confidence, is a scared boy who looks nervously over his shoulder when alone in the streets of Quelimane in Zambézia province. He has good reason to be anxious. He has albinism. In Mozambique, especially in the centre and the North of the country, people with albinism are kidnapped and killed. There is a belief that their body parts cure diseases and bring wealth.
Valdemiro says he was at first afraid of going to school and that is why he is still in Grade 8 at the age of 15, lagging behind in 2 years.
"Being different is now my biggest motivation to stay in school. I want to achieve greater heights because people like me go through all kinds of discrimination," he adds.
Valdemiro, who wants to be a lawyer, or a judge, is already making huge strides. He is one of the adolescent presenters of "Roda Viva," a participatory child-to-child TV programme on Television Mozambique (TVM) Zambézia, which is supported by UNICEF and engages children and adolescents in key debates on issues of their concern. He is also a member of the Child Parliament.
"I feel strongly about standing up for the innocent. Should I become a judge, I will impose hefty sentences on those who violate children's rights," he says.
"I feel strongly about standing up for the innocent. Should I become a judge, I will impose hefty sentences on those who violate children's rights" - 15-year-old TV presenter Valdemiro Eliseu Bimo.
The "Roda Viva" Show covers an array of topics that touch on all aspects that affect children in Mozambique. They range from teenage pregnancy, child marriage, education, HIV, protection of people with albinism through to child exploitation, among others.
Child labour and exploitation is something that 15-year-old, Adérito Barros, also a presenter on the programme, wants to see abolished.
"Orphans who live with relatives are virtually treated like slaves. These children are often not aware of their rights, therefore powerless to fight against this abuse," says Adérito.
Adérito is a well-known personality in Quelimane. This could go to any teenager's head but he is more interested in education. The lanky son of a restaurant owner towers his peers in more ways than one. He says the programme and manuals distributed by UNICEF on children's rights have equipped him with tools that many children do not have.
"We talk about everything from sexual abuse and domestic violence against children who are denied education. We normally invite kids who have been through these experiences to come onto the programme. Many now report cases to the authorities because they feel empowered," he says.
"We talk about everything from sexual abuse and domestic violence against children who are denied education. We normally invite kids who have been through these experiences to come onto the programme. Many now report cases to the authorities because they feel empowered" - 15-year-old TV presenter Adérito Barros.
The result of presentation training is evident in the President of the Child Parliament, Kino Caetano Francisco, who walks and talks like a future leader. The Grade 11 student, from the Patrice Lumumba Secondary School sits quietly and never interrupts when a fellow Member of Parliament has the platform. He dreams of seeing more schools built in his area so that the student teacher ratio in a classroom can be trimmed.
"Some schools have 150 children per classroom. This makes it extremely difficult for teachers to give children individual attention. It is also hard for children to concentrate," says Kino.
"Some schools have 150 children per classroom. This makes it extremely difficult for teachers to give children individual attention. It is also hard for children to concentrate" - President of the Child Parliament Kino Caetano Francisco.
Nearby, the excitement was palpable at the SMS-Biz office in Quelimane. Scores of youth gathered for their weekly report back meeting. Mafalda Muianga, SMS-Biz coordinator for the area works the crowd with slogans. They respond in a crescendo.
Malfada is happy with the progress they have made with the community, especially on taboo topics such as early marriage and early pregnancy.
"We use to face a lot of resistance. The young people wanted to know why they should use condoms. One of the myths is that condoms are filled with the HIV virus during the manufacturing process," she sighs with exasperation.
"We use to face a lot of resistance. The young people wanted to know why they should use condoms. One of the myths is that condoms are filled with the HIV virus during the manufacturing process" - Mafalda Muianga, SMS-Biz coordinator in Quelimane.
Malfada says working with community leaders and by using theatre, which is supported by UNICEF, to disseminate messages, has helped change people's attitudes. People now ask for condoms and HIV testing.
Early pregnancy and Sexual Reproductive Health formed part of the theme at the June 16 Africa Day celebrations held in Maquival, Quelimane. An inquisitive 13-year-old Cristina Esperanda, walked for two kilometres from Mugogoda village to be part of the celebrations. She had joined a group of children who had converged under a tree to watch a live open air broadcast of the "Roda Viva" Show.
"I wish I could hear more about the rights of a child because we are not taught enough of this at school. In my area there are many children who do not go to school. Some fathers keep them away from school, forcing them to sell peanuts in the streets," says Cristina before running back to the crowd.
The "Roda Viva" programme coordinator, Lizete Alvete, believes this day to be special for the children.
"The adolescents can air their views on issues that are important to them and have their voices heard by parents and government officials who have gathered here," says Lizete.
"The adolescents can air their views on issues that are important to them and have their voices heard by parents and government officials who have gathered here" - Lizete Alvete, Roda Viva programme coordinator.
- Radio programmes produced and presented by children increased from 1 728 in 2011 to 6 912 in 2015. Television programmes increased from 534 to 2 136
- Technology for Development Programme (T4D) launched SMS-Biz platform, adolescent led peer counseling on HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health
- UNICEF mobilised Vodacom, Movitel and MCel to support the SMS-Biz initiative
- Radio drama "Ouro Negro" (Black Gold) launched in partnership with Radio Mozambique, reaching more than 1.2 million people.
- UNICEF support for the 2015 session of the National Child Parliament, held at the National Assembly.
- New UNICEF Mozambique website launched and Facebook engaged more than 42 million people
- Advocacy on child rights with involvement of national ambassador, Neyma, at several events, media trainings held to develop ethical reporting in the media
- Non Grant/UNICEF HQ
- UK Aid
- Sweden (through UNFPA)
- EU (through WFP)
- US Fund for UNICEF