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Communication Promotes Growth and Visibility of Social Project

Learning to communicate ideas to identify partners, promote mobilization and, by doing so, bring about change. In the Andean region of Peru, Northeast Brazil and in El Salvador, Central America, social organizations are using their creativity to discover new ways of using communication as an instrument of change.

Not only is it a simple tool, communication is also often part of the projects’ action strategy. This is the case with the Association for Training and Research in Mental Health (ACISAM), from El Salvador. “We see communication as a driving force behind development,” said Noé Valladares, one of the association’s communication specialists. “We use community radios and short films shown in public places to address topics of interest to the community. Besides choosing the topics, we also decide how each issue will be handled.” One such discussion focused on the trauma caused by the country’s civil war of the 80s, which lasted 12 years and killed some 80,000 people.

As far as ACISAM is concerned, there is a connection between mental health and communication. Based on this conviction, it has developed a plan of action to help the population overcome their trauma. Armed with recording equipment and video cameras, teams gather testimonies from the residents of both towns and rural areas. The films have been shown at nearly 120 trauma discussion groups – the majority formed by young people.

In Northeast Brazil, the NGO Formação has mobilized more than 250 youth organizations from 10 municipalities and the public authorities behind the Youth Citizen Project (PJC), which promotes digital inclusion and youth empowerment through education and communication (see this issue’s interview in this page).

In Peru, meanwhile, the Carabayllo Comprehensive Cluster of Projects has developed a communication system to convey messages to the community. It may be simple, but it is highly efficient. Nelson Figueroa, from the Carabayllo cluster, explained that it is made up of a community radio, a website and an electronic newsletter that contributes to their work within a network. “Our correspondents are young social leaders who use communication to transform themselves into development protagonists in the district of Carabayllo, together with other social actors,” said Figueroa.

All these three projects are Kellogg Foundation grantees.

INTERVIEW | Regina Cabral and Fábio Cabral

“We Make a Critical Interpretation of the Reality and Seek Out New Communication References”

Regina Cabral, coordinator of the Youth Citizenship Project, and Fábio Cabral, Educational Communication coordinator, explain how the program uses communication.

Why is it important to have a communication strategy?
It enables us to connect the areas covered by the project and lends visibility to our work. Communication is an important strategy for mobilizing and disseminating the actions taken by the group of Youth Citizenship (PJC) projects. Nevertheless, the communication activities of the NGO Formação and the PJC are not limited to the dissemination of their work. Ever since 2003, when the PJC was created, we have been aware of the need to work on communication with youth on the key topics of democratization, citizenship and development.

What tools are used by the Youth Citizenship Project?
We use different means, which we divide into two conceptual groups: what we call VIR (video, print and radio) and TOP (Telecenter, Youth Observatory and Information Portal). A perspective of educational communication gives rise to a critical interpretation of the reality and the production of new references in the area of communication.

What new communication technologies do you consider most suited to the social area?
Telecenters – new to a region where the rate of digital exclusion is 99% of the population – have acquired importance in the process of democratization and development. The Internet is an instrument that helps consolidate networks and, as such, make it easier to connect the networks and integrate the projects.


Published in Interaction nº 16

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