ears to our world

At ETOW, we believe access to information is access to education. We provide innovative, simple and appropriate technologies to schools and communities in remote, rural and impoverished regions of our world.

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Thank you for your support in 2016

Dear Friend,

Thanksgiving is upon us here in the US.  Ears To Our World wishes to offer our heartfelt thanks, both for those for whom we exist, as well as for those who so generously support us and without whom we couldn’t exist: you.

ETOW in Haiti: Support for Hurricane Matthew Victims

Many are aware of the devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, a country that was still in recovery from the 2010 earthquake.

Following the storm, ETOW's intrepid partners at the Haitian Health Foundation rushed into action, distributing our remaining stock of analog self-powered radios for medical and sustenance relief.  We’re gathering more supplies even as you read this message. Many may not realize that the information a radio provides can be as important as food and medicine––indeed, radio informs Haitians where they can obtain clean water, fresh food, and medical assistance, as well as how to locate loved ones.  Thus, an ETOW radio can mean comfort and connection, as well as survival and safety, giving victims the will and means to carry on.

ETOW is now teaching HHF staff how to build HumanaLights in the field. Our HumanaLights are simple LED flashlights in kit form that run for weeks on a single dead (depleted) AA battery––and for many months on a fresh battery, even with heavy use.  To many, this remarkable little light in the dark means safety.

ETOW in Cameroon, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania: Let there be light 

Meanwhile in Kenya and in Tanzania, a new batch of ETOW radios provide news, health, and safety information. 

And this year, we successfully designed and deployed portable solar battery charging and lighting systems in Cameroon and South Sudan, where several schools and a girls’  dormitory will now have reliable light.  

Clearly, ETOW continues to be dedicated to improving lives and building children’s futures through appropriate, energy-efficient technologies.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift to help us help others, you can send it in the enclosed envelope. Or, feel free to give the gift of radio here on our website (printable donation forms available).

If you would like to learn more about the HumanaLight kit, or if you would like to purchase one, check out: humanalight.org.

ETOW radios being distributed through our partners in Tanzania.

ETOW radios being distributed through our partners in Tanzania.

We hope you've had a wonderful 2016, and continue to stay interested in and involved with Ears to Our World. We welcome your support in any form. And to those who’ve already given it:  We thank you!

In 2017, may the light of tolerance and song of peace spread throughout our listening world.

In friendship,
Thomas Witherspoon
Founder & Director, Ears To Our World


Donation Crosses Globe as AIM Sets Sights on ETOW’s Humanitarian Mission


Ears to Our World is delighted to announce that it has accepted a generous — and wholly unexpected — gift from a non-profit educational institution…clear on the other side of the globe. It’s an ideal illustration of how access to information shrinks the world, and can make it a better place at the same time.

ETOW founder Thomas Witherspoon said the unforeseen largesse, from the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), which learned of ETOW through an Internet search, would support the organization’s continuing work in countries like Kenya, Cameroon, and South Sudan, where it has expanded its presence with a recent shipment of radios. The shortwave broadcast receivers ETOW distributes enable children and their support networks in the most remote, impoverished parts of the world to hear educational programming, local and international news, emergency and health information, as well as music and arts programming.

The ambitious, course-related endeavor that led to the donation was a fulfillment of AIM’s Events and Project Management class. Dubbed “Memories & Melodies,” it was held at the Gaelic Theatre, Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia, and focused on the theme of “Music Nostalgia” through film clips, hired props, and highlights from musical history. Entertainment included a hoopla performer, a ballet dancer, and a comedic gypsy. Guests also enjoyed a glam booth and photo booth, bingo, a dance competition, and a DJ playing hits from the 1950s through the present. Revenue would be collected from ticket sales, raffles, donations, a silent auction, and sponsorships. To donate those proceeds, the non-profit institution wanted to find a charity that aligned with its own vision.

AIM fundraising team photo from "Memories and Melodies"--all dressed in the music nostalgia theme.

AIM fundraising team photo from "Memories and Melodies"--all dressed in the music nostalgia theme.

Ashton Smith, project manager for “Memories and Melodies” and a student of AIM, said, “We agreed to align the event with an organization which focuses on ‘access to the arts’ in some form or another.” After much “scouring of the Web,” as Smith puts it, they came across ETOW, which had a further appeal to them by also targeting communities disadvantaged by social, political, or economic circumstances. They selected ETOW as the sole recipient of their donation. “At the Australian Institute of Music, we value the importance of having access to broadcast media, and can think of no better cause to support,” he added.

“Memories & Melodies” was a resounding success, attended by 140 people and raising a total of $1,700 for ETOW.

Witherspoon says the donation perfectly reflects ETOW’s core principle that access to information is access to education, stating, “Here we have an educational institute in Australia reaching out via the Web — the ultimate access tool — to a humanitarian organization in the U.S. to help foster its efforts in schools in Africa. It’s also inspiring, and humbling, that the young people behind the event, many of whom will one day work in mass media, chose to donate the fruits of their labors to people without mass media, in small villages in another hemisphere. It doesn’t get any more global than this.” 

“As we here at AIM make music our life, it's hard to imagine a life without it,” explains Ashton Smith. “Throw in education, news and health information and you've got power through access to information. ETOW just offered the full spectrum for those who need it the most and we were proud to support them.”

ETOW to Present at the Inaugural IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference

Great news:  Ears To Our World has been invited to make a presentation about the work we do, and how it addresses humanitarian needs in the developing world, at the first-ever IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference.  The IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. ETOW founder, Thomas Witherspoon, and board member Ed Harris recently answered a “Call for Papers” from the organizers of this prestigious forum, coauthoring and submitting a paper entitled “Avoiding the 30-Pound Paperweight: Success Via Contextually Appropriate Technologies.” We’re delighted to announce that the paper--which details how to successfully incorporate into humanitarian efforts the “human vector” (the real-world needs and input of the people served) with the “technological vector” (the tools currently available)--was accepted.  Thomas will present the paper, and explain how ETOW exemplifies this approach, to conference attendees, including technologists, representatives from NGOs, governments, academe, funders, and industry.

This is a tremendous opportunity to promote our work to an influential audience, and an incredible honor for ETOW, but it’s more: it’s also an affirmation by this internationally respected body that our mission and our methods converge in a realistic way that can make a real difference in the lives of those we serve.

The inaugural Global Humanitarian Technology Conference will be held from October 31 to November 1, 2011, at the Renaissance Hotel in Seattle, Washington. For more information, visit www.ieeeghtc.org.

Help us increase our Facebook followers!


Did you know that Ears To Our World is on Facebook?  If you're an ETOW fan, join us!  We have a goal of increasing our follower presence on Facebook to 500 people by December 2010. How can you help?  Join ETOW's Facebook 500 (if you haven't already) by following us on Facebook--and spread the word about ETOW and the power of radio education among your FB friends.

ETOW Featured in Wall Street Journal Magazine


ETOW is both honored and humbled to be featured in the May 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal Magazine (see page 24 in the print edition). Writer David Goren's stellar article brings to life our story, underlined by our mission-driven objectives, and highlights some of our recent significant partnerships; here is an excerpt:

Last August, ETOW teamed with the American Haitian Foundation, shipping radios to the 39 teachers at St. Antoine’s School, in the town of Petite-Rivière-de- Nippes, Haiti, 68 miles from the capital. The teachers brought the radios to their homes, gathering news to pass on to their students. When the earthquake hit, the teachers cranked them up to glean what information they could. “After the earthquake, all the radio stations were off in the country,” says Emmanuel Pressoir, the school’s business manager. “The telephone did not work, even the cell phone. But with their radios, they could go on shortwave, and be informed.” A week later, when a 5.9 aftershock rocked the village and rumors of an impending tsunami stirred panic, the teachers were able to turn to their radios again..."


Please visit the WSJ Mag website to read the full article.

ETOW would especially like to thank David, as well as editor Owen Phillips, photographer Randy Harris, and indeed all the WSJ staff, who made this nonprofit's dream come true in print before thousands of readers. We would also like to thank those of our partners and supporters who provided wonderful photos and comments that enrich the piece. Last but certainly not least, ETOW wishes to thank those readers who have responded with all forms of support, in the form of encouraging words, or in donations of money, time, and/or talent.

Many, many thanks to each of you -- we are profoundly grateful.

ETOW Radios Arrive in Sudan

(Photo: Project Education Sudan)

(Photo: Project Education Sudan)

Ears to Our World's first radios have arrived in Southern Sudan, care of our partner Project Education Sudan, a US-based charitable organization whose goal is to foster education in areas that have been ravaged by Sudan's 20 year civil war, which has destroyed its existing educational system.

Like ETOW, Project Educate Sudan believes that education and the dissemination of information is fundamental. ETOW's shortwave radios have found a vital role in this area, with PES distributing and teaching community leaders how to operate them.

Carol Rinehart, executive director of PES, headed up the first distribution project, taking forty ETOW shortwave radios to five different villages in Sudan. She and her team distributed the radios to headmasters and teachers in schools which PES helps to fund, and found the response was overwhelmingly positive.


"The teachers were so excited about the radios and using them as a teaching resource that it became the central focus of the teacher In-Service [program], and more teachers than we [could supply] came from all around the area to receive one," recalled Rinehart. "After distribution of the radios, I saw the teachers around the villages using them with kids surrounding them. Our biggest challenge was the chiefs of the villages also want[ed] a radio!"


The ETOW radios that were distributed in Sudan almost instantly became the primary source for news and current events, particularly in covering the country's first democratic elections. During these elections the teachers kept their new radios in the classrooms to teach their students about the voting process, and the broadcasts provided vital information to the community about where and how to cast ballots.

Shortwave radios like those ETOW distributes take on a crucial role in countries where electricity, internet access, and other technology is limited. Radios connect those in remote areas with information that would otherwise be almost impossible to glean. "The main impact of the radios will be with the students and teachers, but the interconnectedness of the students and teachers as a vital part of their community will have a larger impact on the whole village," said Rinehart. "Their communities are so remote, in a newly-emerging country only now building an infrastructure. So literally, the radios ETOW provides keeps the students, teachers and the whole community connected to the world."

ETOW Featured in Popular Communications

Click to enlarge. Dear Friends of ETOW,

ETOW has had an incredible first year--from the donation of our first radios to their distribution in seven countries on three continents, from Eastern Europe to Africa and Haiti--we've seen healthy growth in our young organization. We're delighted and encouraged by our many empowering partnerships, as well, which have truly made our successes possible--such as that with the Empower Campaign, a stellar organization which is helping to build much-needed schools in Uganda, and which is now distributing ETOW radios to these same schools.

Our cover feature in December's international magazine, Popular Communications, sums up our year with hope for a bright future. See pages 14-19 for our story, Greg Majewski's excellent supporting article on page 22, and editor Edith Lennon's wonderful editorial on page 4.

We hope you've had a good year, too, and will continue to stay interested in and involved with Ears to Our World.

May blessings abound and peace reign throughout our listening world...

Warm thanks, Thomas.

Thomas Witherspoon Founder/Director, EARS TO OUR WORLD.

Download full article here--courtesy of Popular Communications.

ETOW Featured In A Special Radio Show About Radio In Africa

ETOW works with schools in many regions of Africa including; Kenya (pictured), Cameroon, Uganda, Mozambique and Sudan. Ears To Our World is soon to be featured in a special dedicated radio show, produced by Keith Perron of PCJ Media.

The one-hour program will focus on ETOW and the importance of radio in Africa, in particular.

Guests are:

pcjlogoThe show was generously produced by--with all interviews conducted by--Keith Perron of PCJ Media. Keith is a radio broadcaster based in Taipei, Taiwan who recently revived one of the longest-running shortwave radio programs in history, The Happy Station Show. Keith has worked for numerous international broadcasters including Radio Canada International, China Radio International, Radio Havana Cuba, and freelanced for many other local and international broadcasters.


The show will have 4 air dates:

On shortwave radio via WRMI on 9955 kHz: November 20, 2009 – 02:00 UTC (Universal Time) November 21, 2009 – 14:00 UTC

November 28, 2009 – 0900 UTC Tawa, Redwood, Wellington/New Zealand Freq: 88.5 FM

November 29, 2009 – 1305 UTC Indonesia Freq: Various, TBA

If you missed the broadcast, please click here to download a recording of the show.

ETOW would like to thank Keith for coming up with the idea for this special program and for donating his valuable production time to put it together.  We would also like to thank the interview panel on the show--we are very grateful for your participation. And last but certainly not least, we would like to thank Jeff White of Radio Miami International (WRMI) for donating broadcast time.  Many thanks to you all!

And thanks, too, to our readers and supporters for listening.

ETOW Helps Teachers in Haiti

Teachers at the Petite-Rivière school prepare to distrubute ETOW radios to all of their teachers. Radios shown in their protective carry cases.In September 2009, Ears To Our World sent 39 radios to teachers in Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes, a small coastal village in southern Haiti. This was made possible through our partnership with the American Haitian Foundation (AHF).

The AHF is a non-profit organization that works to educate young people in Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes and the surrounding community. They do this through a three story school which, with the help of the local community, the group built to serve over 800 students daily. The school building is sited on a hill overlooking the sea and has become much more than just a school. It is an employer of 79 people (38 of whom are teachers), it provides nourishing meals to 560 of their children, the school building itself is used as a community resource for a variety of educational opportunities, and even serves as a local shelter from weather disasters. The Petite-Rivière school, moreover, is totally powered by renewable solar energy.

Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes, Haiti

Though at school, the teachers and students have access to electricity, at home, most do not. Our radios serve as a 24/7 reliable link to world news, language resources and educational programming, as well as to often life-saving weather information.

Haiti is often in the news for its seemingly disproportionate number of natural disasters due to its position in the Gulf, as well as its lack of safety infrastructure. Each year hurricanes, tropical storms and floods take the lives of hundreds of Haitians. The American Haitian Foundation owns and operates three radio stations that are used to broadcast emergency weather information and other important news and announcements to the local community. ETOW's radio, the Grundig FR200 readily receives these stations and will prove an invaluable resource for the school and the surrounding communities where teachers and their students live.

ETOW is proud that, with the help of the AHC staff, we were able to send our radios to the school in the early part of the hurricane season this year. We would like to thank AHC Director, Jack Davidson,  as well as AHC board members and volunteers for helping with this project.

ETOW Partners with EduCare in Cameroon

Ears To Our World has recently partnered with EduCare Africa, a non-profit organization that works with schools in rural Cameroon. Mr. Ndomi Patrick Ndi and his students from G.S.S. Mbu-Warr receiving their first ETOW self-powered, world-band radio.

This year, ETOW sent EduCare a few radios to a pilot rural school in Cameroon to get teacher feedback about the potential project. EduCare is also using a radio to as a demonstration to get local support. The response has been overwhelming.

Mr. Emmanuel Sunjo, EduCare's Project Coodinator in Cameroon, writes:

This project is unique and will create a big impact. It will be first of its kind in Cameroon. The radios are good-looking and well-designed. ...[T]here is a lot that we shall achieve from this project.

We, too, believe our radios will have a major impact in Cameroon and we know that by using EduCare's network and solid reputation, distribution will be effective. Already, our first teacher, Mr. Ndomi Patrick Ndi from G.S.S. Mbu-Warr, commented in a letter to us:

I received with great joy the radio donated to me by you. This radio is going to help me, my students, the staff and the entire community...I am very grateful...

Logistically, Cameroon, much like Kenya, is a challenging country--distances are great from village to village, school to school. Thanks to Mr. Sunjo's dedicated efforts, EduCare's network encompasses a large area. EduCare, however, has limited resources.

It will cost roughly $50 per radio to send 150 radios to Cameroon. If you'd like to help get them there, consider using the donation button on Ears To Our World's website to support teachers, children, and classrooms in Cameroon!

Radios to Sudan in January 2010

Ears To Our World is pleased to announce a new partnership with Project Education Sudan (PES). Project Education Sudan works in Bor County, Jonglei State, Southern Sudan. (Photo courtesy of PES)

We have been working with PES for several months now, putting together an exciting joint project:  ETOW will be sending enough radios to supply teachers in three local villages PES supports in Bor County, Jonglei State, Southern Sudan. We are most thankful to PES for handling most of the extensive logistical costs and arrangements involved in this project. Carol Rinehart, Executive Director and Co-Founder of PES, has embraced our partnership, as our radios will bring much-needed information into the homes of Sudanese teachers and students.

Project Education Sudan is an inspirational organization and a notable example of grass-roots, self-sustaining humanitarianism. PES is a non-profit created as a partnership between Sudanese and Americans in response to destruction that resulted from a twenty-year civil war between Northern and Southern Sudan. Their mission is to fund and support indigenous Sudanese organizations and communities that build primary and secondary schools, and to train teachers in rural villages in Southern Sudan.

Bor County, Jonglei State, Southern Sudan

Continue to follow this project here! We will post more information and photos as they become available.

Copyright © 2013 Ears To Our World