(Audio clip at the end of this article)
An exclusive radio interview now available online reveals how TWR’s new program Alert Ebola strives to replace the understandable fear and confusion gripping West Africa with knowledge and hope.
In the United States for TWR (also known as Trans World Radio) global leadership meetings, the media ministry’s international director for West and Central Africa, Abdoulaye Sangho, said fear is pervasive as the disease continues to rage after having claimed more than 4,000 lives. Sangho spoke with Andy Napier, host of TWR’s Footsteps radio feature, in an exclusive interview last week.
The government of Ivory Coast, where Sangho lives, has implemented a variety of measures to keep out the infection that has ravaged the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
“They ask people not to hug, not to kiss, not to even greet other people,” Sangho said, adding that such precautions are particularly disturbing in these societies where demonstrative displays of friendship are an important part of the culture.
Even before Alert Ebola was created and produced by TWR’s national partner in Côte d’Ivoire, existing broadcasts such as children’s programming, Women of Hope and AIDS Challenge, were incorporating information to raise awareness of the disease. TWR personnel worked with government and health officials to develop a unified message, Sangho said. Alert Ebola is broadcast in French, which is widely used in these former French colonies, as well as some local languages such as Bambara.
“TWR is very involved in the prevention of Ebola in West Africa,” he said. “… At the end of the day, we finish and we talk about the gospel. There is hope in Jesus. But first, it is about preventing Ebola.”
The magnitude of the threat has led to some highly unusual and interesting cooperation.
“We discuss with religious leaders – Christian leaders but also Muslim leaders, who accepted to take our fliers when they are ready for distribution,” Sangho said. “Even some imams take the fliers to distribute in their mosques and talk about Ebola from the TWR initiative. … Ebola is very terrible, but it also has opened doors for us to minister to Muslims and non-Christians.”
TWR friends and family as well as other Christians who wish to play a part in advancing the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and in spreading the gospel can do so through prayer and financial support, the international director said. Besides airing regular programming on local radio stations, TWR broadcasts from its powerful AM transmitter in West Africa to eight countries in the region.
“In a large part of some West African countries, it’s difficult to reach through radio because there is no Christian radio allowed,” Sangho said. “We find other ways to introduce the gospel, through SD cards, through flash players through MP3s. So we need a lot of prayer from TWR partners and friends who pray and assist us in getting the Gospel to all these countries.”
Information for people interested in supporting the outreach in West Africa is available at www.twr.org/ebola.