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.
This year, ETOW had the pleasure of working directly with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) to bring our self-powered word band radios to the homes of children who are visually impaired. Staff of the BCVI personally introduced us to a number of the visually impaired children with whom they work, as well as their families, who live in very rural areas of northern Belize as well as within densely-populated Belize City. The children were presented radios by ETOW's director, Thomas Witherspoon, and team members of the BCVI, for use in their homes. Many of these homes lack reliable electricity, thus our radios play an important role for continued, renewable information and education.
Radio opens a world to all of our recipients, but to those who are visually impaired, this can be even more dramatic. Unlike the internet, which requires expensive translation software, radio content is designed to be heard, rather than watched or read--for those to whom sound and touch is their means of experiencing the world, radio is truly the perfect learning medium.
These children were no exception: Witherspoon says he was impressed by their instinctive aptitude for understanding radio, considering that many had never had a radio of their own or even tuned a radio prior to our visit. Smiles brightened their faces as they touched, tuned, and heard the diverse music and voices emanating from their radios. Said Witherspoon, "These children really responded to the radios, and I knew that it wouldn't be long before they know the frequency bands by heart. I felt humbled and privileged," Witherspoon added,"to introduce the world of radio to these incredible young people."
We would like to thank our partner, the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired, for helping us open the door to their clients. We were most impressed with the BCVI's holistic approach to helping children through continued, routine contact with both them and their families. Their educational and medical services are a benchmark for other organizations. We look forward to our continued partnership and long-term support through the BCVI.
At Ears To Our World, we have long wanted to give radios directly to school children in developing regions, but for a child, carrying one of our self-powered radios isn't always practical or even advisable, as this could make such children a target of theft. This is one of the reasons why teachers are the guardians of our radios. But ETOW recently hatched an idea to pursue the design and creation of an inexpensive kit that children could, themselves, assemble into a simple working FM radio--maybe even a green product, no less, in that the kit radio might incorporate a re-purposed plastic bottle as the radio's housing and/or a scrap cardboard base to hold together its components. If the radio is somehow damaged, parts could thus be easily pulled off and replaced.
The exercise of assembling such a radio could be educational on many levels, and not only would teach a child about radio from the viewpoint of a young listener, but as a young engineer and perhaps even innovator. This kit, while it would provide the basic electronics, may require a certain amount of ingenuity from the assembler as he or she would have to connect the electronics without solder, and perhaps with the assistance of items near at hand (scrap, recyclables, natural elements) for assembly board and housing. Meantime, we at ETOW could learn an enormous amount from these radio-kit recipients, both in terms of practical usage and potential programming concepts.
With this in mind, Thomas Witherspoon, ETOW's founder/director, approached Make: Magazine; shortly after, we were surprised and pleased to learn that his casual inquiry has become a Maker Challenge in their online edition. Creative hobbyists and "makers" alike instantly began to respond with ideas.
Many thanks to Make Magazine and the online editors for their support! What's more, we thank those who have (and have yet to) respond--and look forward to the invention of a kit radio, just for kids!
Ears To Our World is working closely with our partners at Oklahoma State University and the Belize Ministry of Education, who themselves have a standing partnership in impoverished areas of Belize. OSU has created a learning lab at Unity Presbyterian Primary School, located in the heart of the most impoverished section of Belize City. The OSU learning lab supplies laptop computers and teacher training, while the Ministry of Education provides internet access, which can be difficult or expensive to obtain in Belize, within the lab setting. ETOW, meanwhile, has supplied portable self-powered radios to each teacher in the primary school; Thomas Witherspoon, ETOW's founder and Executive Director, was on hand to provide radio programming and training to these teachers.
Not only will Unity's teachers be able to receive global news and information via radio, both at home and at school, but they will share this information with their students for enhanced classroom learning.
Together with Dr. Edward Harris, OSU Professor and Williams Chair of Educational Leadership, Dr. Blayne Mayfield, also of OSU, and with the encouragement of the forward-looking Ministry of Education, ETOW hopes to develop a means by which radio can be used for distance learning throughout the country, and perhaps even for computer training.
Regarding the relevance of radio in education, Dr. Edward Harris, who helped originate the OSU learning lab, writes:
I have had the opportunity to travel to some remote areas of the globe. One common goal of almost every family I’ve met is for their children to have the best education possible. While the world has made strides in trying to bridge digital, economic, and social divides, there are still many areas of the world where children do not have equitable educational opportunities. In these areas, economic, geographic, and political conditions often make getting a good education impossible. In short, although people around the world recognize that education is necessary for personal, national, and global improvement, far too many children are not only left behind, they are left without hope.
One way to bridge the educational inequities that pervade global society is through audio podcasts and radio communication. Radio, especially self-powered radio, is a cost-effective and sustainable means to disseminate pertinent educational information to populations in remote corners of the globe.
While most of us in the western world are relatively adept in computer and internet technologies, many people around the world still do not have computer and internet skills. Self-powered shortwave radio has advantages over other modern communication technologies, because it’s inexpensive, user-friendly, and transcends political, geographical and economic boundaries.
ETOW looks forward to a continued and lasting partnership with OSU and the Belize Ministry of Education, and to an expansion of this laboratory program to other areas of Belize, so greatly in need of educational support.
by Rob de Santos
What would you do if your car died on a dark road, out of sight of any building? Your mobile phone doesn’t get a signal. The car battery has died. It’s cold, dark, and perhaps even raining. You are truly “out of touch,” not sure when help is going to arrive. Would you be worried? Scared, even?
Now, put yourself in a disaster zone. Your house may be damaged or destroyed. Public utilities aren’t functioning. Power is out and mobile phones aren’t working. You are truly “out of touch.” Now, how might you feel?
The scenarios are remarkably similar in the feelings and concerns they elicit. In both cases, the lack of any communication makes the situation far worse. In both situations, if you could just turn on a radio and get news of what is going on in your area and when help might arrive, your sense of security increases as your fears diminish.
Such is the power of radio. When other communications fail, a simple radio with a crank or solar panel for power and knob to tune it offers a reassuring voice. A source of knowledge instead of just rumors. Before schools can get outside resources, or children can travel over repaired roads, radio provides a funnel of information that allows education to continue.
It’s easy (and necessary) in a disaster to think about necessities such as food, shelter, and clean water. How do people in the disaster learn where to go and how to get help with these basic needs? If you live in the industrialized world you might just assume it will show up where you are, sooner or later. As many found even in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, that can be a risky assumption. What you need is information on how to help yourself, and the best way to get the information is through a radio.
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..."
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.
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."
Ears to Our World has a new web host and supporter, Memset, a carbon-neutral web hosting company, which will provide us with a dedicated server for our ever-growing web community. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Memset for graciously providing us with a robust web hosting package with extremely reliable service, as well as a website that will be able to handle increased web traffic. We are delighted to find a web hosting company that shares our ethics of sustainable business practices. Memset recently announced that they expect to save their customers over 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 through their use of cloud computing.
Nick Craig-Wood, CTO of Memset, shares our commitment to the main goals of ETOW. "As an internet hosting company, we are thrilled to be helping ETOW deliver information to the places the Internet doesn't reach yet," he said. "On a personal level, I've always had a soft spot for radio communications, and to think that a person in an impoverished country could have the use of a long distance radio makes me very happy."
We feel very fortunate to be supported by such a professional and reliable web hosting company, and look forward to growing with Memset in the future.
Ears To Our World would like to announce that we are now accepting donations for self-powered radios to the earthquake-affected area in Chile, through a fund-raising partnership with student groups from Harvard and the Boston, MA area. Their fund raising venture is called Reconnect Chile. Through Reconnect, we are pleased to have established a strategic partnership with World Vision Chile, who will distribute the radios throughout the rural coastal villages most affected by both the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, consequent aftershocks and tsunamis.
Please consider donating money today to directly support sending radios to Chile. As with our efforts in Haiti, your $30.00 US contribution purchases and sends not one, but two self-powered Eton emergency radios to Chile. Radios provide vital emergency information so earthquake survivors can receive news of medical assistance, food, water and reports about loved ones.
Choose Donation Amount
2 Radios To Chile $30.00
4 Radios To Chile $60.00
6 Radios To Chile $90.00
8 Radios To Chile $120.00
10 Radios To Chile $150.00
12 Radios To Chile $180.00
14 Radios To Chile $210.00
16 Radios To Chile $240.00
Case Of 40 Radios to Chile $600.00
Again, all of this is made possible through our partnerships with Reconnect Chile and World Vision Chile. For questions about Reconnect Chile's fund raising activities, or if you would like to help, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
ETOW would also like to thank the generosity of our sponsor, Eton Corporation, who makes it possible for us to provide the incredible value of two information-providing radios for every $30 donation.
Ears To Our World is a US registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions to this project are tax-deductible.
Once again, we would like to take a moment to thank the Winter SWL (Shortwave Listening) Fest for their generous and enthusiastic support of ETOW. ETOW founder and Executive Director, Thomas Witherspoon, attended the 23rd annual event that attracts radios enthusiasts, broadcasters, publishers and hobbyists alike, and was offered a warm reception both by festival hosts and attendees.
This year, the Festival raised more than $900 for ETOW--$700 from the popular silent auction, and over $200 in the form of individual donations. These funds will go a long way toward the support of our ongoing mission of education and international outreach through radio.
But SWL Fest support was not just monetary. From SWL Fest co-host, Richard Cuff, we received following words of encouragement:
"We're thrilled to be able to support ETOW.
"The work that you're doing with ETOW helps us remember that radio is a tool that can make a positive difference in the world. We're grateful that individuals within the Fest community donate directly to ETOW and we're grateful to be able to support your work via the Silent Auction.
"We hope 2010 brings much success to ETOW as it continues to make a difference in areas lacking in news and information."
Thank you very much, Richard! Thanks, too, to co-host John Figliozzi, and last but not least, to all Winter Fest friends and SWLers who support us so very enthusiastically. Your belief in the power of radio is well-founded, and your spirited support of ETOW is truly appreciated.
Hats off to our friends of the 'Fest!
Etón Corporation, in response to our Radios To Haiti initiative, has generously donated over 300 self-powered radios to Ears To Our World for immediate shipment to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through our logistics partner, Operation USA.
Moreover, in addition to these radios, Etón has donated over 450 self-powered flashlights to be shipped along with the radios.
Ears To Our World would like to thank Etón Corporation and its CEO, Esmail Amid-Hozour, for sponsorship and continued support of our mission as it expands to help those in immediate need in Haiti.
...And we hope to ship even more. The response from our Radios to Haiti fund drive, launched only last week, has been truly remarkable. We wish to thank all that have donated, as well as the volunteers who helped prepare and pack the radios at such short notice.
We have partnered with Operation USA to deliver and distribute our radios to the areas of Haiti affected by the earthquake. Operation USA is a charity that specializes in logistics; their sole purpose is to deliver aid to countries in need, such as Haiti, and for this reason they can do so quickly and efficiently. ETOW is pleased to be partnering with this reputable organization; we look forward to sending more radios to Haiti in the very near future.
At ETOW, we know that in times of crisis, the dissemination of basic information is of extreme importance; it can save lives. Therefore, although sending radios to Haiti following that country's recent devastating earthquake broadens the scope of our usual program, in light of the dire emergency the country now faces, ETOW has decided to extend our reach beyond schools and teachers, to distribute a substantial number of Eton Corporation-donated ETOW radios to individuals in remote and impoverished areas affected by the recent earthquake.
ETOW's wind-up radios, which also have a built-in flashlight, may provide life-saving medical and food/water supply information to families and communities.
On a side note, we are very grateful to hear reports from our partner organization, the American Haitian Foundation, that the community of Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes in Haiti has reported no loss of life, and the ETOW radios they previously received are providing a useful link with other islands.
We will provide further updates on our special Radios to Haiti program as they become available.
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.
Here in the United States it is Thanksgiving -- a holiday during which we reflect upon all that makes us thankful, and a particularly meaningful occasion for Ears To Our World.
ETOW would certainly not be where it is today without our partners, supporters and friends. Our "thanks" page list is very long--unfortunately, it's impossible to include everyone--but the impact of each individual upon the people we serve is extraordinary, impossible to capture on a mere web page.
We are especially grateful for the support we received very early from Universal Radio and Etón Corporation. We would not have a presence in seven countries, helping hundreds of classrooms and thousands of children without the donation of radios Etón Corporation provided us early this year -- not to mention, our initial leg-up from Universal Radio. We thank you.
I would personally like to thank our board of directors, for your guidance, your oversight, and most of all your belief in our mission--you've given generously of your time, and even from your own pockets. We thank you.
Thanks, moreover, to our teachers--who give long hours of their lives to help the students in their care, often for the most paltry pay imaginable; we'd also like to thank you, teachers, for your feedback, which makes our work more useful. You are most deserving of our sincere respect and appreciation, and we thank you.
In short, we are profoundly thankful...
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Thomas Witherspoon Founder/Director
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.
- Thomas Witherspoon - Founder and Executive Director, Ears To Our World
- Fred Osterman - Universal Radio
- Walter Hess - Etón Corp.
- David Smith - formerly with Radio Canada International, Radio Netherlands, and United Nations Radio
- Soule Issiaka - an expert on the role of radio in Africa and freelance with Radio Netherlands
The 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.
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.
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.
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!
Ears To Our World is pleased to announce a new partnership with Project Education Sudan (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.
Continue to follow this project here! We will post more information and photos as they become available.