In the Bekaa in Lebanon, women refugees from Syria launch a new radio

As part of our project Microcamp Radio and with a mobile radio studio, we went to the region of the Bekaa in Lebanon. There, we participated in the creation of a local radio station with women refugees from Syria. After one week of workshops, they broadcasted their own radio programme, in live from the two centers of the organization Women Now from Development. It was the very first of a long series of broadcasts, in which they will discuss about the topics of their choice, from the day to day life in camps to their dreams for the future.

Microcamp Radio is an itinerant radio put in place by the French organization Radio Activité. We provide pedagogic tools in order to allow every participants of a workshop to create their own radio broadcast, and to share a good moment of discoveries in a peaceful environment. Since 2016, we have been holding these workshops with refugees and displaced persons in many countries such as Greece, Iraq, Jordan, Armenia…

Last year, a first encouraging collaboration with Women Now from Development led us to renew the experience, but this time leaving a mobile radio studio there. The latter will be shared by the two centers located in the towns of Chtoura and Majdal, near the Syrian border. The organization Women Now from Development was created in 2012 by the Syrian writer now refugee in France Samar Yazbek. It also has a center in Idlib (Syria). Its aim is to allow women, Syrian and Lebanese, to regain their self confidence through the idea of empowerment.

Women refugees are part of the most vulnerable populations in exile. They face the sufferings of creating a new life abroad but also gender-based violences and discriminations. Over the last few years, many fled from Syria to Lebanon (where Syrian refugees are still more than a million to live, in spite of the launching of a “return policy” from the State Security), on their own or with their families. A great number lives in the Bekaa’s camps, in the mountain which separates the two countries.

Around thirty women, between 13 and 60 years old, have participated to our workshops. A few of them had been studying journalism in Syria but weren’t able to work because of the war. But for the great majority, it was a whole new experience. Thanks to playful activities, based on the principles of popular education (we value the participation, the engagement of the body, the comparison with theatre…), they learned how to host their programme, to conduct interviews, how to edit their production and to upload it on social media.

From the beginning, we made sure that they saw the radio studio as their own, so that the project could be continued with full autonomy after our departure. This mobile studio was especially designed and manufactured for them by Mathieu Eymeoud, who studies at the ENSCI school in Paris. The studio is solid and light, and consists of a mixing table, a laptop and microphones. The ease of use was the main requirement behind its creation.

Two programmes have already been broadcasted in live. They are called “Voice of Syrians” and “Voice of hope”. The topics are : violences against women, difficulties to access the Lebanese schooling system, recycling… They are still available on the Facebook page of Women Now For Development, followed first and foremost by people living in Idlib and Damas (Syria), and by the Syrian diaspora in the world.