Sri Lanka Development Journalists Forum (SDJF) trained 25 youth Muslim writers on radio drama and social advocacy to improve their innovative and creative skills in communicating key Muslims and minority concerns such as co-existence, issues on IDPs, Land, mother migration and slums, through Radio drama. The training took place in Kandy for 3 monthsduring the weekends. Through this workshop, Participantsgained the capacity to use new, innovative and creative strategies to address and advocate the minority concerns. Out of 55 applications, 25 young participants including 10 Muslim girls were selected for this training workshop.
Participants were trained on basic skills such as understanding and internalizing core issues, mapping the issues, developing real world characters, dealing with conflict, story lining, scene development, script writing, editing and acting. Participants had a great opportunity not only to learn the skills but also to reflect their understanding on issues affecting minorities. Throughout the training, they demonstrated their commitment to engage in minority concerns using radio dramas as powerful tool. The participants were also trained on core concepts such as diversity, pluralism and conflict transformation.
Why Radio Drama?
Radio drama is a form of communication which has a higher impact than most other communication methods, for effectively influencing and sharpening the minds of people, especially those in rural and urban communities. Radio can be used as a catalyst for attitudinal change and can facilitate the mobilization of communities in identifying the collective potential of the whole Muslim community.
Radio can be widely used as a tool for advocacy. At the same time, radio drama is a powerful tool to advocate and promote ethnic tolerance, interfaith communication, pluralistic values, and sense of diversity, justice and equality which are critical values at this juncture in Sri Lanka.Radio drama in Sri Lanka has actively and continuously been used as a mean of communication by various Muslim writers in addressing and advocating the issues that exist in the Muslim community.
Researches have shown that, over a span of six decades, radio drama programs are listened by the majority of the Muslim community. Now more radio stations are flourishing and greater interest is being generated in radio dramas. But, unfortunately, many veteran writers, producers, and artists are slowly moving away from radio dramas as they retire. However, in order to continue the momentum and to ensure that the problems existing in the Muslim community are being addressed in an affective and interactive manner, it is very important to train new people to develop radio dramas which advocate the issues of importance to the Muslim community. This program will contribute significantly to build that momentum.
• To provide selected youthwith the skills necessary to develop radio dramas to address and advocate for minority issues in an effective and interactive manner.
• To produce 15 powerful radio dramas which address and advocate key issues affecting the Muslim community.
• Bring Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum into the SFM network
Initially, six-day training sessions on using radio drama as a powerful tool to advocate Muslim issues were conducted. The youth from universities, community organizations, and civil society organizations including freelance writers, producers, and activists were selected to deliver radio dramas advocating different issues and emphasizing potential solutions. Three Eminent resource people were brought to facilitate this training and to present a variety of topics related to radio dramas, advocacy, and script writing. This initial training was followed by a three-day follow-up workshop to facilitate the trainees in enriching their radio scripts. Two more resource people who are experts in script writing will facilitate this workshop. SFM and SDJF plan to generate at least several strong social radio dramas through this exercise and produce 15 out of them initially.
Co-existence: One of the most attracted themes was co-existence and 60% of the students selected this theme in which barriers of Muslim Tamil ethnic relation in post conflict Sri Lanka, ethnic harmony amongst Muslims and Tamils within the resettlement setting, influence of mainstream politics in dividing the ethnic communities, inabilities of the leaders in bridging the emotional gap amongst minorities and responsibilities of minorities in finding a common ground with all the communities in building a united Sri Lanka.
SLUMS: The cultural crisis of slums, educational issues, socio-economic issues affecting the wellbeing of the slums regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, difficulties of the youth in finding societally committed life and life struggle of the minorities when they happen to leave their houses and lives as local refugees were also highlighted in the scripts.
IDPS AND RESETTLEMENT: Under the theme of IDPs and Resettlement related issues, conflict between host communities and IDPs, Finding livelihood opportunities in newly settled places, finding sustainable source of income for future, land issues, housing and other basic needs related issues were highlighted.
MOTHER MIGRATIONS:Mother Migration and family issues were highlighted. Two scripts creatively showed the saddest aspect of mother migration in terms of family losing its cohesiveness, unity and stability.
LAND ISSUES:Land issues are very much common amongst the minorities and the dramas focussed how the rights of the minorities to live in their own piece of land are compromised by the local forces.
Some of the Opinions
Inshira, Second Year Student, University of South East,
“I thought Radio drama is just a fiction and a romantic tool. However through the training I realized that it’s a scientific art that has enormous potential in attracting the hearts and the minds of the civil society. While dealing with various social issues I got convinced and I noticed the change in myself. I understand the need of committing for the attainment of the collaborative peace respecting each other’s diversity”.
“Till I developed my concept and then related it to drama on co-existence I didn’t understand how much I am biased toward my own identity. Now I think I am a part of very mixed diversified community and my diversity is equal to others diversity. All human beings are equal regardless of their ethnic backgrounds and other differences such as sexual orientation, status, education and etc. Now I am confident that I can also use Radio drama for a better cause”.
Inshaf Salahudden, Editor Meelparvai
“I have attended many training workshopsin abroad and in Sri Lanka. But I have never committed myself like I committed to this training workshop. Without any request from the trainers, I myself worked extra hours in developing my drama. This is a great surprise for me; ultimately I learnt radio drama had deeply influenced me. I learnt many things about the strength of radio drama and I am sure I would definitely use them in addressing issues affecting minorities, particularly Muslims”.
• Before the conclusion participants formed a network amongst them and everyone became a part of it.
• Regional wise participant-clubs were formed by the participants.
• More than 7 participants were able to prove themselves writing similar dramas to other mainstream radios.
• 15 Strong radio plays addressing minority concerns were written and produced.
• More than 6 positive newspaper comments were published.
• 2 essays were written by two different participants on the power of the radio drama in addressing social issues.