NewsSIGNIS Projects: Reaching remote areas through radio in Malawi

SIGNIS Projects: Reaching remote areas through radio in Malawi

Every year, SIGNIS screens project applications on media training, equipment, and production for subsidies from the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith (PSPF). In 2020, we launched the online portal, successfully switching from a paper-based to a fully digital application process and making it easier for applicants from all over the world to submit their projects.

Fr. Paul Odie Chirwa, communication coordinator of the Diocese of Mzuzu in Malawi, tells us more about their local Radio Tigabane and how the funds helped them support its development and audience reach.

Could you tell us more about the project’s human impact on your community?   

Fr. Paul Odie Chirwa: Our project covers a vast area. Many people are interested in listening to the radio because of various activities. Now communities know what is happening pastorally and socially, and their lives are knowledgeable. 

How has the situation in your community improved once you implemented the project?

The project plays an essential role in our large Diocese, and we rely on parish correspondents to share information with our people. There are many benefits in various areas: parish activities, spiritual inputs, business advertising and other national activities of interest.

What can you tell us about the community where the project took place?  

The project takes place in 18 parishes covering 27,378 Km2 through parish correspondents and covers pastoral events, commissions and bishop activities. The diocese audience covers four governing political districts with a population of 2,515,431. There are about 450,000 Catholics in the area (45 % men and 55% women) and three main tribes: Tumbuka, Ngonde and Tonga. Most of our ancestral items and ideologies are fading away with modern influence. There is a lot of integrations with other cultures. 

What were your main objectives with this project? 

We wanted to train parish and institution correspondents and journalists to provide the latest relevant information or events through Radio Tigabane, the diocesan website and mobile phones. Our goal is to involve all parishes and diocesan institutions by using the radio as the most accessible communication channel to the remotest places.

Is there an anecdote that you recall from these last months? 

We gave free mobile phones to 18 parishes when one parish correspondent asked us: “What about airtime and bundles for data?”. Also, we should not take for granted that all young people know how to use WhatsApp, as one confessed that he should be taught how to use it. So we laughed, and at the same time, sympathized with him!

Why do you think PSPF should continue to support these types of projects? 

Putting the Diocese on media platforms encourages community participation and inspires parishes to support our radio financially and morally. Unfortunately, people in our Diocese lacked information and community involvement for a long time. Now, they all have easy access to the latest news, primarily through the radio, and benefit from it both spiritually and socially!


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