A lucky find

When you’re reporting a story in an unfamiliar country that you previously only learned about through research at your desk and phone interviews, sometimes anxiety sets in once you’re on the ground. Will the story I thought I was following actually match reality? Will I find enough compelling scenes to illustrate it? And do I have enough time to get everything done?

For a story about how a community radio station is encouraging rural Rwandans to speak up and hold local government accountable, I hoped I could find all the elements in one day – the station was about two hours outside Kigali so I didn’t know if I’d have a chance to go back. The director of the station promised to introduce me to the local journalists and listeners to the station and invited me to tag along to a community debate program they were having where villagers could question local official . But the visits took longer than I expected and in the end I was worried that I hadn’t spent enough time talking with the actual listeners. 

Luckily, IWMF arranged for me to go back to the area for a second trip, and I was able to meet villagers who shared specific ways community radio had affected their lives. Then, as we were driving along, I came across this young man holding his new radio. It felt like a stroke of luck and a perfect image to help tell the story. -Kavitha Surana