Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Reuters AlertNet - AFGHANISTAN: New radio soap promotes rural development

Reuters AlertNet - AFGHANISTAN: New radio soap promotes rural development:

KABUL, 11 May (IRIN) - On the outskirts of the Afghan capital Kabul, Daud Maqsoudi and several other men and women were sitting around, talking about village reconstruction.

'We should be united and rebuild Chamanistan [Afghanistan]. Lets consult with everyone and find out how to rebuild our land,' Haji Tawab, who was introduced as the community elder and head of the Shura [community council] was heard saying. Tawab's call was followed by a murmur of agreement from the group.

Maqsoudi and the others are not rural villagers but renowned Afghan actors recording the new 'Let Us Build Our Village,' radio soap opera that was aired for the first time on Wednesday. The new programme is only the second radio soap opera after the BBC's popular ten-year-old 'New Home New Life' programme.

Like the BBC's offering, 'Let us build our village' is also broadcast in Dari and Pashtu. It's the brainchild of the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), and designed to realistically portray both the joys and hardships of life in rural Afghanistan. The programme will focus on progress in construction and reconstruction of rural communities.

'Afghans are really fond of soap operas and the experience of New Home New Life proved that soap opera dramas can be one of the best means of bringing people together and raising awareness of rural areas,' Maqsoudi, the director and editor of the new drama, who also wrote for the BBC soap, said.

The new series will feature Afghanistan's ambitious National Solidarity Programme (NSP) – a rural reconstruction initiative aimed at assisting the poorest and most vulnerable. 'But the series is not just NSP-related but about culture, education, human rights and even comedy,' said Maqsoudi, as he ran through a scene from the soap with an actress.

To reach as many people as possible, the new soap opera is being aired by state-run Radio Kabul and provincial stations of Radio Afghanistan at 08:15 local time each morning except Fridays and public holidays."

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