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May 6, 2016

Radio Barpak is On the Air

Coady graduate helps a village rebound from a killer earthquake

Radio saves lives.

No one knows that better than Bhumiraj Chapagain, manager of Sharecast (Media) Initiative in Kathmandu, Nepal and a recent Coady graduate.

In April 2015, a massive earthquake flattened the village of Barpak in the Ghorka district of north-central Nepal. The initial quake and hundreds of aftershocks killed 8,500 and injured over 20,000. More than 200,000 homes were destroyed.

Coady diploma graduate Bhumiraj Chapagain (L) helps test equipment at Barpak Radio.

Exactly one year later, Chapagain was in the remote village to celebrate the official opening of Radio Barpak, a community radio station that will make sure everyone is connected in times of emergency.

“The earthquake destroyed all regular communication channels,” he says. “There was no electricity or transportation, and people had no way to communicate their needs or find out what was happening elsewhere.”

Chapagain says that thanks to donations, the new community station will play a pivotal role in the rebuilding process, and help mobilize people for emergency preparedness and other community development projects.

“We had more than 100 local residents at the station opening, and they formed their own radio operations committee and advisory committee,” he says. “It is very diverse and representative of their community.”

102-year old Kali Ghale dons headphones and throws the switch to start broadcasting at Barpak Radio.

As a broadcast manager, Chapagain applies leadership skills he honed at Coady International Institute, where he spent five months studying and working with colleagues from 19 countries.

“The diploma program contained many elements of community engagement and participation, which support my work in community radio here in Nepal.”

He says it was very exciting to join community members on April 25th at precisely 11:56 am local time, exactly one year from the time the earthquake struck.

And it was only fitting that the oldest person in the village, a 102-year woman named Kali Ghale, was invited to approach the microphone and begin the inaugural broadcast.

Radio Barpak was on the air.