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.

Filtering by Tag: Shortwave Radio

Mission in Process: ETOW’s Radios Educate Despite Extremes

The self-powered world band radios that Ears To Our World distributes to remote, impoverished schools and communities around the world through its global partners are often subjected to extremes—not only climatic, in the form of relentlless tropical rains and scorching desert sand-storms, but also the political and economic, resulting in extremes of usage most technologies are just not built to withstand. To support ETOW's mission of providing the developing world with reliable access to information--e.g, educational programming, local and international news, emergency and health information--ETOW radios must be exceedingly rugged and maintainable in the field. Nevertheless, any technology experiencing this kind of usage must be expected to have a finite functionality: that’s the reason our commitment to ongoing partnership and follow-up support is so vital. When we place radios in schools and communities through our global partners, we do so as a collaborative effort among equals: to make a lasting impact in our served areas, our in-country NGO affiliates distribute the radios where they can do the greatest good. Additionally, our partner teachers and community leaders entrusted with ETOW's radios take responsibility for their care, monitoring each unit's function as a result of daily usage. ETOW maintains contact with these partners and provides assistance as needed and feasible.

Fortunately, the Etón Grundig self-powered, hand-crank worldband radios with which ETOW works have been functioning superbly in the field, in places as diverse as Belize, Chile, Romania, Mongolia, South Sudan, and Cameroon. Thus far, these units have proven more than equal to the challenge: with care, these radios can last up to up to three years in the field, exceeding our expectations for the product. In areas where conditions are extreme, the radios do wear more rapidly, but we have learned that only tens in hundreds break within the first year of use, a remarkable finding and a testament to the committed care of the units by our partner-users.

Even a more significant finding, however, is the validation of our organizational model. ETOW recently had the opportunity to examine the sole radio returned to us from a remote area of Cameroon where our partner, NGO EduCare-Africa, had assigned it for use as a teaching tool in a local school. While the radio still received signals after three years of use, it no longer charged by hand crank; ETOW requested its return for analysis. Pavla Zakova-Laney, Founder, President, Executive Director, and full-time volunteer of EduCare, promptly responded with the radio's return. In the meantime, as per our agreement, she offered the teacher partner a replacement radio. So, although the original radio experienced an internal component failure, it was apparently otherwise well-cared for, as the teacher partner had agreed upon placement; our NGO partner was informed of the problem, and served as on-site intermediary; and ETOW was able to address the problem by replacing the unit. Clearly, ETOW’s model of collaboration and follow-through works.

“We recognize that success in humanitarian aid requires providing consistent and reliable support over time,” explains Thomas Witherspoon, ETOW’s founder and director, “so we commit to our teachers and partners that we will do our best to replace or repair radios when they eventually reach the end of their useful life.”

ETOW’s experience in Cameroon is, in our view, a clear success story. According to Zakova-Laney, there are currently seven ETOW radios serving communities in Cameroon, being used in secondary/high schools. And although they are located in remote areas, EduCare estimates that nearly 2,700 students and teachers have directly benefitted from these seven devices. That number increases dramatically as news and other information is disseminated to students' families at home and to communities at large.

But upon further examination, EduCare’s feedback is not all that surprising. In the areas ETOW serves, even one radio can produce a remarkably broad positive impact. “Every school [that received a radio] greatly appreciated it, and promised it would be used well and handled with care,” explained Zakova-Laney. In developing areas, each radio is an invaluable resource because it can affect so many lives. Even the single returned FR200 with the broken crank, in otherwise good condition despite extensive use, reinforces what we’ve believed from the beginning: radio is the best method to reach the greatest number of people where the need is greatest in the developing world. It is economical, uncomplicated, broadcasts are unhindered by boundaries and politics--and, as we’ve seen, as tough as it needs to be.

We’re proud of the continuing role we play in support of invaluable programs like EduCare-Africa's, helping our partners achieve their goals of expanding opportunities and improving lives through education. So, exactly how important is our role? Zakova-Laney: “I believe that as long as there will be remote places without electricity and...a means of communication, these radios will be very helpful, bringing news, useful information and educational programs—and [they will be] appreciated tremendously.”

ETOW extends our appreciation to our generous supporters who enable us to do what we do. Thank you all.

 

 

First radio arrives in Kibera, Kenya

World Corps Kenya, St. Catherine School It is with great excitement that we announce the arrival of our first radio in Kenya!  A teacher at St. Catherine School in Kibera, Kenya, is the recipient.  Serah Mucha of World Corps Kenya, who has partnered with Ears To Our World (ETOW), delivered our first radio herself.

Regarding this delivery, Ms. Mucha wrote:

The school is situated in Kibera, which is the biggest slum in Africa; it has 145 children and only 5 teachers, so this radio could be counted as the sixth. :) The buildings are dilapidated but what caught me was the eagerness for the children to learn and the excitement of a new method of learning in the classroom...

[I]t was so wonderful to give the radio away and see the smiles on people's faces...

Serah Mucha of World Corps Kenya with teacher Reagan and students of St. Catherine School.

This radio, provided by Universal Radio, is just the first of many that will be sent to teachers at St. Catherine and other local schools. Teacher Reagan, the radio's recipient, and World Corps Kenya are committed to providing ETOW with constructive feedback so that we can ensure our program is best tailored to their needs.

Thanks to Ms. Mucha and World Corps Kenya!  Thanks, too, to our wonderful sponsors Universal Radio and Etón Corporation. We wish Reagan and the other teachers and students of St. Catherine School our very best.

ETOW Selects a Radio: the Grundig FR200

Our choice, the Grundig FR200! If you have been following our progress in testing radios for ETOW use, you'll know that the choice of radio for our project has not been straightforward. Over the past two months, we have considered and thoroughly tested an array of radios from various manufacturers, searching for an appropriate quality product. It was important to us that the radio we selected be particularly durable and of excellent quality in every respect, able to readily withstand constant classroom use, as it will ultimately represent ETOW where we work.

We have at last made a choice: Grundig's FR200. The compact and sturdy FR200 has several requisite features, including:

  • Shortwave coverage down to 3.2 MHz, to cover local HF stations in Africa and the tropics
  • FM and AM (medium wave) coverage
  • Self-powered by hand crank:  two minutes of hand operation delivers approximately 30-40 minutes of radio listening
  • LED reading lamp
  • Sturdy chassis and rugged black canvas carry case with adjustable shoulder strap
  • Volume and sound fidelity suitable for classroom use
  • Superior sensitivity and selectivity for a radio in its class

The LED Lamp on the FR200 makes night reading possible

One of the most significant deciding factors has been the FR200's indication of longevity. We were impressed, moreover, with all of the Grundig (also known as Etón) radios which we tested in this respect. Being able to supply not only a quality but also lasting product to our classrooms and teachers is consistent with our mission, in that we will endeavor to maintain the relationships we build with our schools.

We are also encouraged by the fact that Grundig/Etón's mission coincides with our own. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Radio is a medium that transcends borders. The airwaves know no boundaries. From the veldts of Africa to the jungles of Southeast Asia to the suburbs of America, the airwaves, and the valuable information they carry, are available to anyone with a radio. As a company with a global presence, Etón is committed to helping the world communicate across borders and without boundaries.

Congratulations, Grundig/Etón, for crafting an exceptional product!

ETOW would also like to thank Universal Radio once again for helping us narrow our search and donating all of our test radios.

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