VOICE OF THE CHURCH/LIPHIMBO LELIBANDLA FM RADIO
95, 96, 97 & 101 FM
Voice of the Church (VOC) in Swaziland is a Christian radio station, founded in 1994 in Swaziland. With 5 FM transmitters, the station can reach 85% of the country. It broadcasts 24 hours a day with many programmes. The mission of the organisation is to broadcast the Gospel and to serve people with radio programmes that discuss health issues and social issues. VOC has a good relation with churches in Swaziland and has close contacts with government organisations and NGO’s.
VOC is the partner of Trans World Radio (TWR) and airs programmes like Thru the Bible, Insight for Living, Word of God, but also many locally produced programmes in siSwati. The AIDS programme that is sponsored by TWR-Netherlands is called Luju Lolu Balalako. Other sponsoring activities by TWR-Netherlands concern an AIDS information film, ‘Swazi Kids on Air’.
Especially for the AIDS programme, VOC makes use of a network with government ministries, churches and NGOs. The network with churches and other well established organisations ensures a sustained growth of activities. There are possibilities to scale up activities, such as in the field of HIV/AIDS, by producing more AIDS radio programmes and organizing related activities, such as AIDS seminars. The restricting factor in this respect is the availability of finance. VOC recognizes the need for fundraising and marketing tools. By accessing sufficient finance, VOC has the possibility to acquire schooled staff from Swaziland and to train them with the facilities TWR provides. Also because of its position as a radio station in a network of churches and organisations, VOC has the potential to scale up in its role in events such as the national HIV campaign. VOC wants to improve her monitoring and evaluation capabilities.
In the area of mainstreaming regarding HIV/AIDS, attention is given to providing up to date information to the staff of VOC. VOC has no internal AIDS expertise, but because of the close contacts with the government and NGOs, staff are regularly educated. Training/information is provided by a government project.
Radio can be viewed as the ideal medium to involve communities in their health and livelihoods and also involve leaders at national, community, regional and rural levels. Radio is a medium where one’s level of education or status is not a criterion for receiving and understanding information or a message. The multiplier effect of reach by radio is great. A radio owner listening to his/her radio at top volume inadvertently reaches everyone within a volume radius as well as passer-by. Radio is also the best placed medium to reach all populations simultaneously in the language that they understand. It is also a medium widely accepted for relaying accurate messages and truth.
A letter excerpt:
“The programme sister has brought healing in my life. My husband went away for 3 years to study abroad. It was fine with me and he would come home in every opportunity he got. He finished his course and came back but his health was deteriorating. I am a listener of Honey That Kills so I asked him to do HIV Test as I have heard from the programme. He had all the opportunist infections so I suspected that he might be HIV positive. He refused to do the test and he didn’t get well and eventually died from full blown AIDS. I was so hurt more for the fact that I might be infected. I have been bitter and very confused as to how can God allow this to happen to me. You were with Pastor Malaza in the studio on the topic of forgiving a person who might have infected you with HIV/AIDS. I remember every word. Almost all the questions you asked are the one I had myself. You are our mouth piece sister so continue. As he was praying I cried and God did miracles. You cannot believe it but the joy I had before everything happened has been restored. It is a miracle but it happened”.