Venezuela's community of refugees and migrants in Boa Vista, Brazil is fighting misinformation with the community radio programme La Voz de los Refugiados. In a studio that works as a radio laboratory inside a refugee shelter, eleven volunteers record podcasts answering questions from the community and thus fighting misinformation about COVID-19, documents, access to rights in Brazil, job search and other topics.
The podcasts, in Spanish, are played over speakers at the Rondon III shelter which has received more than 1,200 people. It is part of Operation Welcome (Operação Acolhida, in Portuguese): the government's response to the flow of refugees and migrants from Venezuela to Brazil within the capital of Roraima state.
Artist Erasmo Rangel announces, “This is La Voz de los Refugiados, providing you with the news so it´s all clear. My greetings to all my brothers, Brazil and Venezuela holding hands.”
“We talk about labor laws, discrimination, documentation and various other topics. But the main thing is to identify that error, that little lie that is circulating in the community and that could end up harming someone,” says Maria Andreina Gil, a 35-year-old volunteer.
“Many people at the shelter are ashamed and have difficulty with the language, that's why they don't ask the Brazilians about their doubts. In addition, shelter residents circulate unreliable information among themselves. The radio is helping a lot,” says Katiuska Rodrigues, 56, who lives in shelter Rondon III.
Mario Rodas uses his legal knowledge to present constitutional provisions on labor laws and other legal issues, while Erasmo Rangel and Maria Andreina present the Momento Salud (Health Moment), with accurate news and information about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project is an initiative of the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) with the Volunteer Association for International Service (AVSI Brasil, in Portuguese) and support from the government of Luxembourg. It's in place in four shelters of Operation Welcome in Boa Vista: Rondon I, Rondon II, Rondon III and Pricumã.
The community radio project is financed by the Board of Cooperation for Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Luxembourg Government.
The initiative takes into account radio as a communication and information tool. It is based on a community engagement approach to identify doubts and provide relevant information. It investigated the impacts of misinformation on communities and assessed topics of interest for residents from the four shelters in Boa Vista. AVSI Brasil selected volunteers and conducted a three-module training on radio journalism, journalistic verification and newspaper theater techniques.
The radio station has already more than 20 podcasts published and available here.