Sarah Adongo, 38, grew up on a family farm, surrounded by groundnut, sunflower, soybean, maize, simsim, and a variety of vegetables. These were the source of her school fees, which eventually allowed her to train as a secondary school teacher. Her family also grew cassava, beans, potatoes, and millet to eat.
“I grew up participating in the family farming activities, and was brought up appreciating farming as a source of food and my school fees, so I loved it,” she says.
She also grew up surrounded by the sound of the radio. “Before I could even understand very well what was being said on the radio, my father loved listening to news. Especially on Radio Uganda … and the BBC.” Her father would quiz her and her brother on the news they heard on the radio.
She now combines these interests as the producer and broadcaster of the Farmers’ Radio program on Mega FM in Uganda, and as the host of the Big Breakfast morning show during the week.
“Although I joined the media without the professional training in journalism or mass communication, the desire to learn, take advice positively, and commitment in what I do in the media has enabled me to enhance my knowledge and attain the necessary skills and ability to perform my tasks with much ease,” she says.
She is passionate about involving the community in her programming. She records community voices, phones out or receives phone-ins during her program, and brings farmers into the studio for live talk shows. “I think involving the community in our programming creates the sense of ownership among them, since they give advice on how they want things done,” she says.
Mrs. Adongo takes her responsibility as a broadcaster seriously, and focuses on providing farmers with access to the right information when they need it, and giving them the opportunity to share their experiences. “What I have learned [since becoming a broadcaster], is about the power of the word and I am very aware that anything you say on air can impact either positively or negatively, and therefore before saying anything on air I first think about its impact,” she explains.
One of her most effective programs was Farm Radio International’s radio drama, My Children. The drama was both entertaining and educational, Mrs. Adongo says, informing listeners about the benefits of growing and eating orange-fleshed sweet potato, which provides the body with vitamin A, a nutrient needed for good health.
“A number of listeners said the My Children radio drama has made them get involved in the production and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato because of its nutritional value,” she says. “The My Children radio program also contributed to the social aspect of the listeners, since it [was]… very educative, entertaining, interactive, and engaging.”
Mrs. Adongo is one of our 2016 George Atkins Communications Award winners.