MAP Radio – a voice for migrant workers in Thailand
For over 15 years Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has supported MAP Radio, a migrant community radio station broadcasting from both Chiang Mai and Mae Sot along the border with Myanmar in Thailand. Both towns have become popular destinations for migrant workers from Myanmar seeking to flee the authoritarian government and violence of their homeland as well as to secure better paid work than on offer in Myanmar.
However, for many of these workers, the hope of a peaceful and more prosperous life in Thailand is quickly thwarted as they become victims of entrenched exploitation. Employers and government officials are often happy to exploit the benefits of cheap Burmese migrant workers, without any willingness to accept responsibility for their wellbeing or care.
MAP Radio aims to improve the quality of lives of these migrant workers from Myanmar through providing access to information and education in their mother language via community radio stations, online based broadcasting through android applications and through social media. Programs disseminate accurate information on migration and labour rights issues, as well as other issues such as women’s rights and health, child rights and education and social inclusion. All programs aim to improve migrant’s quality of life in Thailand and support migrant workers to organise and stand up to exploitation and abuse. MAP Radio’s programs help connect migrant workers; both men and women and those from different ethnicities and nationalities and promote public participation and civic engagement.
Leveraging technology to reach more migrant workers on their mobile devices
Over the last 12 months, MAP Radio has increased radio listenership through the use of innovative platforms, namely Facebook Live. MAP Radio stations in Chiang Mai and the Thai-Myanmar border town of Mae Sot are now included on the Myanmar eRadio app enabling people in Myanmar to easily find and listen to MAP Radio on their mobile devices.
Recently MAP Radio was approached by the BBC in Myanmar to broadcast their new BBC Media Action Project which focuses on “migration and financial inclusion in Myanmar.” The radio program provides information to migrants and their families on the risks and opportunities of labour migration within Myanmar and internationally. It is being broadcast through MAP Radio via link since the end of 2017.
MAP Radio’s aim moving forward is to continue to provide up-to-date information on a range of migration-related issues and human rights via regular programming broadcast in migrant languages over MAP’s two community radio stations in Chiang Mai and Mae Sot. Part of this includes the regular capacity building of DJs, and community interaction through listener panels and outreach with the migrant community. MAP also aims to promote community radio and ethnic media by continuing to provide capacity building to partner organisations, and by participating in relevant networks.