In the wake of an insightful two-day online Mental Health Awareness training on August 25th and 26th, 2021, and a subsequent engagement in September 2023, facilitated by KCOMNET, Bulala FM took a significant step in addressing mental health challenges within the community. The station’s staff, equipped with newfound skills and knowledge, embarked on programs aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of drug and substance abuse identified during a thorough needs assessment with their listener groups.
KCOMNET played a pivotal role in guiding the station’s efforts to inform and reduce the impact of drug abuse. The community responded eagerly to presenter mentions, and on September 30th, a live talk show became a platform for addressing the link between depression and drug abuse. Three guests, including Kelvin Wanyama, a survivor of drug abuse, shared their insights.
Wanyama recounted how he fell into drug misuse during his second year in school, highlighting the prevalence of drugs in Budalangi. Urging the community to reject drug misuse, he also called for increased sensitization forums and support for survivors. Pastor Williams Biruga Oduory of The Salvation of Spirit Ministry emphasized the role of the church in combating drug abuse without resorting to violence. He highlighted the connection between drug abuse and the spread of HIV, pointing a finger at leadership for enabling the drug trade.
Thomas Mango, Mentor and Chairman of CSOs in Busia County, expanded the conversation to include the overuse of prescribed drugs and shed light on the silent menace of Mukokaa in the community. Mango noted the adverse effects, including depression, hypertension, and a decrease in male potency. Traditional practices like Disco-matanga and odiko were identified as contributors to the erosion of Banyala traditions, leaving the elderly feeling despondent.
The insights gathered from these discussions prompted the organization of a multi-sectoral meeting at the DCC’s compound in the Youth Empowerment Center, chaired by ACC-1, to address the urgent issue of drug abuse.
With Bulala FM positioned as the secretariat, additional suggestions emerged, leading to the hosting of school debates on the topic. Four primary schools, four secondary schools, two community debates, and three public meetings within the Budalangi village unit, facilitated by the Village Administrator, have taken place. These initiatives have garnered interest from three CSOs and various stakeholders at the sub-county and county levels, all eager to collaborate with the radio station in putting an end to the menace of drug abuse. Bulala FM continues to play a pivotal role in fostering dialogue, awareness, and community-driven solutions to address mental health challenges head-on.