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Learning by Ear

Listeners creating stories – the 10 best ideas from the Learning by Ear competition

Listeners have sent in dozens of creative and authentic story ideas - some funny, some sad, all of them thought-provoking. We want to share the best ideas with you - here are the 10 best stories from our competition.

First Prize

A long way home – two trafficked boys undertake an exhausting march to rejoin their family

Author: Bouloufèi Bèwèzima and a group of youths from the club "A nous la planète" from Togo

Living in poverty, two parents struggle to take care of all of their seven children. So when the father's sister suggests that two of the boys could live with her, the parents leap at the opportunity. But in reality the aunt has a nasty plan. She takes the two boys, aged six and nine, to Nigeria where they are forced to work for another family.

The boys are treated extremely badly in their new home. They are only fed one meal a day and they have so much work to do that they can only sleep for a few hours every night. To make matters worse, the boys are regularly beaten. Their aunt visits once a month but she doesn't care about the boys' fate - rather she pockets the money the boys have earned.

Portrait Bouloufèi Bèwèzima

The proud winner: Bouloufèi Bèwèzima from Togo.

The situation is so dire that the two boys decide to run away. One night, they sneak out of the house and start the long walk home back to Togo. After three days of walking, the boys are exhausted and so they take a rest under a tree where a stranger approaches them. The two boys confide in the man that they have escaped and want to rejoin their parents in Togo. The man takes the two boys to his home and gives them some money so that they can continue their journey.

When the two boys finally make it home, their parents can't believe their eyes. They are horrified when they hear the boy's tales about what the aunt has done.The village chief summons the aunt. When she appears, she lies and pretends to shed tears over the unexpected disappearance of her two nephews from her home. Only when the village chief confronts the aunt with her terrible deeds and the two boys enter the room does she confess everything. Later a court convicts her of trafficking the children and sends her to prison.


Second Prize

Make your own decisions – Samira succeeds in getting an education against the wishes of her parents

Authors: Djakaya Pascal, Vermagai Vegued, Tseganga Amos, Gaimava Léonie, Goumai Fragile and Hamadou Garga Diyo from Cameroon

Samira is an only child. Her parents, who need her to stay at home and help tend the cattle, don't believe education is important. But when she turns seven, Samira is finally allowed to start elementary school. She gets good grades every year but because her birth certificate is missing, she isn't allowed to sit the final exams and is told she has to repeat the final year. Samira's father then takes her out of school and marries her off to a much older man from the village.

This marriage is a torture for the young girl. Samira is often violently raped by her husband and is injured so badly that she becomes infertile. After she repeatedly fails to get pregnant, her husband chases her out of their home and marries another woman. Samira's parents refuse to let their daughter back into their home and so she ekes out a living on the streets. Luckily, Samira finds shelter at a center for women who have been victims of forced marriage. There, she gets back on her own two feet and learns how to make clothes. Working as a seamstress, Samira becomes a much-respected person within her community.


Third Prize

Live positive – how a young HIV positive couple copes with the disease

Authors: the Zvandiri Youth Advocacy Team from Zimbabwe

Eighteen-year-old Tatenda, who comes from a poor background, is in love with 16-year-old Rufaro, a girl from an affluent, happy family. When Rufaro realizesthat she is probably pregnant, she tries to talk to her parents but they chase her out of the family home.Rufaro stays at Tatenda’s for a while but she is desperately unhappy because of her situation. She tries to kill herself and is admitted to hospital. However, Rufaro can't afford to pay for her treatment and her parents refuse to give her any money. Tatenda wants to help and runs around like crazy borrowing money.

Auf dem Bild ist Loyce Maturu zu sehen. Sie ist ein Mitglied des „Zvandiri Youth Advocacy Teams“ und engagiert sich gegen Stigmatisierung und Diskriminierung HIV positiver Menschen. Das „Zvandiri Youth Advocacy Team“ hat beim Learning by Ear-Wettbewerb „Learning by Ear wants to tell your story!“ den 3.Platz belegt. Copyright: Andreas Keller Juli 2012, Harare, Simbabwe

Loyce Maturu is a member of "Zvandiri Youth Advocacy Team" who won the third prize.

While she is in the clinic, Rufaro confides in her boyfriend that she could be pregnant. The clinic carries out an HIV test alongside the pregnancy test. Both tests come back positive. Tatenda is also tested and he has a positive test as well.

Tatenda and Rufaro start their HIV medication of anti-retroviral drugs. But the young couple face enormous difficulties in their daily lives. Rufaro is being bullied at school and everyone that Tatenda borrowed money from is trying to get their money back. Furthermore, people in the area know that the two aren't married and it's an absolute taboo in their culture to live together without being wed.

Both of them are at a low point and with all the stress, they stop taking their medication regularly. They become so sick that they need to be hospitalized again. In hospital, they are treated on the condition that they join a support group for HIV positive youth. Here they get to know other young people who are facing similar problems and who also feel stigmatized. In their weekly sessions, Rufaro and Tatenda can talk about their problems and gain self-esteem. Rufaro decides to proceed with her pregnancy and is counseled on how to prevent the transmission of HIV to her unborn child.

When the baby is born, Rufaro receives lots of support from the treatment center. After two months, the baby is tested for HIV – to the parents' joy, the test is negative!



Highly recommended

"When an adult is speaking, the children better hush" – why it's sometimes better to listen to a child’s advice

Authors: Ouro Sama Samiroudine, Alissera Gafarou, Sebabi Yazid, Morou Yakoubou, Boukari Aftal, Tadjindine Alfaissa, Kpandja Adam, Karim Ashraf, Ali Achiraf, Ouro Djeri Abdel Azim and Atictche Kokou from Togo

In Africa, there is a common saying: "When an adult is speaking, the children better hush". The following story is based on an experience I made in my hometown, Kpaza, where a a poor, rural family lived. The children in that family had no right to join in family meetings or to say a single word when family affairs were discussed.

One day, the father of the family, Mr Tchagnirou, returned home from his field. He was tired and hungry. As is the African custom, his wife handed him a calabash of water. He then cried out for his meal of millet gruel and okra gumbo.

With the meal in front of him, Mr Tchagnirou started praying to his ancestors as is the custom in his village. Right in this moment, his son, Kalifou, saw a cockroach in the supper! Kalifou tried to warn his father but Mr Tchagnirou just admonished his son to hush. “When did I allow you to speak whenever you want?”, he asked. He felt his son's words were an insult against his person.

After two, three bites, Mr Tchagnirou suddenly felt a pain in his throat. His wife, Adjara, rushed him to the medical station in his village. The nurse quickly discovered what was causing the pain – Mr Tchagnirou had eaten an insect that was hard to digest.

After they returned home, Mr Tchagnirou called his son and his wife to tell them about an important decision he had made. From that day on, every child that has something to say should be listened to.


An unexpected family reunion – a father abandons his family but fate leads him back

Authors: Alain Maboko, Yvonne Igega Chizungu, Gilbert Bandu Bitasimwa, Muhindo, Princesse Maboko, Me Salleh et al. from the Democratic Republic of Congo

The father in this story is a successful businessman who regularly travels abroad. Being busy all the time, he seems to have forgotten about his family. When his daughter tries to make a little money, she starts an affair with a sugar daddy, a man who is much older than her and who gives her money and presents in return for sex. When she becomes pregnant, she tries to abort several times without success. To conceal the pregnancy from the father, her mother sends her to live with her aunt. But when the aunt sees the pregnant girl, she calls the girl's father who immediately abandons his family.

The years pass. One day, the father comes back to his country for business. He books a hotel room in the city and parks his car in the street below. Nearby, some bedraggled and neglected children are playing. During one of their games, the children accidentally smash the car's windscreen with a stone. The kids run off but one boy is caught and charged with vandalism.

The boy's mother accompanies the boy to court. When the businessman enters the court, he sees his daughter who he had left high and dry several years ago. And the kid from the street – his grandson!

Juli 2012, Goma, RDC Auf dem Bild sind einige Mitglieder des DW-Hörerclubs aus Goma zu sehen, die 2012 am Learning by Ear-Geschichtenerzählwettbewerb teilgenommen haben. Copyright: Alain Maboko, Vorsitzender des Clubs

Members of the DW listeners' club who participated in the competition.


Abu and Jimmalo – two friends as different as night and day

Authors: Rabiu Sabo, Jamilu Lake, Ibrahim Irosta , Sani Computer and Auwalu Muhammad Danlarabawa from Nigeria

Abu is a 17-year-old girl whose parents are so poor they are unable to feed her. Because of this, Abu spends all day hawking wares. Her friend Jimmalo hawks, too, but still attends school. Abu would like to find a way to make some money so that she can pay her school fees and also help support her family but has no luck.

Thanks to her good education, Jimmalograduates as a nurse and starts working in a hospital whereas Abuhas become wayward, sleeping around with different men who pay her money in return.

When Jimmalo tries to admonish her friend Abu to change her lifestyle, all of Jimmalo's well-meant words fall on deaf ears. Abu is convinced that even if she went to school and graduated, she wouldn't be able to find a job. So she continues to acquire as much wealth as possible using what means she has.

Then, everything falls apart: Abu is impregnated by a security guard, who attempts to abort the pregnancy by giving Abu a concoction to drink. This dangerous cocktail almost kills Abu. She is admitted to hospital where she meets her former friend Jimmalo, who is on duty that day. It’s her old friend who finally saves her life.



True friends know how to forgive – how one girl strayed from her friends who embraced her when she needed help

Authors: Ketchaha Chakunte Brunda Audrey and her friends Youndou Aristide Santa, Ngah Melissa Loraine Audrey, Manga Josepha Christie, Mekak Anwal Mariane Linda from Cameroon

Six school friends used to stick together like glue. The girls shared every moment together, both in the classroom and in the schoolyard. When a problem arose, they always tried to find a solution together. But at the end of the school year, three of the friends had to repeat the year. The girls were put into different classes. This put their close friendship to the test.

One of the girls, Bell, became friends with a different clique made up of the richest and most popular girls in the whole school. When her old friends told her how worried they were about her, Bell brushed their worries aside. Bell was convinced that her former friends were just jealous of her new ones!

Portrait Brunda Audrey. Auf dem Bild sind Brunda Ketchaha Audrey und Ngah Melissa Loraine Audrey zu sehen, die 2012 am Learning by Ear-Geschichtenerzählwettbewerb teilgenommen haben. Copyright: Brunda Ketchaha Audrey Vollständiger Name des Zulieferers: Brunda Ketchaha Audrey Postanschrift inkl. Land: Yaounde, omnisport ; rue1506, boite postale: 496yaounde.

Brunda Ketchaha Audrey and Ngah Melissa Loraine Audrey sent in the story about Bell.

Bell's new environment had a bad influence on her. She stopped attending school regularly, she spoke back to the teachers and she started dating boys. Bell finally recognized what a mess her life had become; her grades were awful and on top of that, she was pregnant. Suddenly she realized that she had lost the support of her former friends, who had once meant so much to her.

Bell’s new friends let her down and Bell decided to try to make it up with her old ones. They were hurt by Bell's betrayal but forgave her. The next time there was an argument in the group, it was just about who would be the godmother of Bell's unborn child.


A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship

Authors: Louis Pascal Dao, Lloyd Smith Sou, Mexan Bado, Joseph Ouaro, Aristide Dao, Alain Some, Mariam Kouanda and Yéli Sou Clara from Burkina Faso

This story takes placein a poor town in West Africa. It is the story of a group of friends, who even though they could barely make ends meet, always looked after each other. No matter how small the meal was, it was always shared amongst the group of friends.

And then God blessed one of them, Zougou, with a business idea. Zougou's friends liked the idea and wanted to participate even though they didn't have any money to help start up the business. But after Zougou managed to scratch together a small amount of money towards his business, he was put off by the thought of having to share any of his income with his friends. So he distanced himself from them and told them that he had given up his plan. Later on, Zougou's friends found out that he had already started up his business and they realized they have been fooled by him.

After some time passed, Zougou's business started to go badly and he couldn't pay back his creditors. He turned to his old friends whom he had previously let down. One of these old friends managed to convince the group to change their mind and make up with Zougou. In memory of their old friendship, they helped him to get the business up and running again and finally succeeded in paying off his debts.


From an uneducated boy to a successful teacher – the extraordinary career of Taganya Orrole

Authors: Michel Ngogo, Juma Mgesi Marwa, Victor Magesa Marwa, Agnes Alexander Chacha and Noel Lucas Thomas from Tanzania

Taganya Orrole was a boy from a poor background from the village of Kemogemba. His mother, Naakanyere, was disabled; she just had one arm and one leg. She wasn't married when she had Taganya and because of her disability, she stayed single for many years after his birth.

When Taganya was six years old, his mother married a man 30 years older than herself. Because Naakanyere was disabled, the bridal price was low and her husband, Mwikumya, did not need to pay much for the marriage. This was a good deal for Mwikumy because he wasn't a rich man.

Life was not easy for the new couple. They only found badly paid jobs because of Naakanyere's disability and Mwikumy's age. During the next four years, the family expanded. Naakanyere had two more children and as a result, life became even harder for the family. Taganya didn't even have a place to sleep.

Then Taganya decided to visit the richest man in the village and to ask him for a job. Mahanyero owned land and cattle and many cars. He had a cargo business and a grinding machine company. Taganya tended Mahanyero's herd while his employer's children went to an expensive private school. He did not earn a lot of money but Mahanyero gave him food and lodgings and he had enough money left over to give some to his family.

At the age of 15, Taganya joined an education program that targeted youths who hadn't had the chance to go to school at an early age. The program allowed Taganya to catch up on his schooling and he turned out to be one of the best students in his class. Another organization helped him to graduate from secondary school and attend teachers college. Today, Taganya teaches primary students at Kemogemba and still supports his family financially.


Do what you love – a young singer makes it to the top against the will of her father

Authors: Alhousseiny Sakiné, Ténin Coulibaly, Madou Coulibaly, Awa Diallo, Assétou Koné, Atché Bakhaga and Assétou Kanté from Mali

Assétou’s biggest dream is to become singer - like her idol, Oumou Sangaré! But her father does not want to know anything about his daughter's ambitions. In his opinion, singing and dancing in front of an audience is vulgar and inappropriate for a young lady. When he finds out that Assétou is already takes singing classes and that she performs in public, he chases his daughter out of the house. Assétou finds shelter at Oumou Sangaré’s house.

Some time later, representatives from the town's German twin city come to visit and Assétou performs for them on stage. Thanks to the help of Oumou Sangaré, the young girl receives a contract for a singing tour of Europe. She becomes famous – both in Germany and in her own country. But her father still does not accept Assétou.

Portrait Teilnehmergruppe Mali. Auf dem Bild ist die Gruppe « Les inséparables de Faladié » zu sehen, die 2012 am Learning by Ear-Geschichtenerzählwettbewerb teilgenommen hat. Copyright: Alhousseiny Sakine

Members of the group from Mali who sent in the story about a girl who follows her dreams.

When journalists come to her hometown to interview her father, he climbs up on the roof of his house and points a gun at every person who approaches. It's only when Oumou Sangaré, the police and one of his friends intervene that he puts down his gun and climbs off the roof. They manage to convince the father to make up with his daughter but he has one condition: Assétou must marry the son of his friend.

But Assétou has fallen in love with Martin, a young student from Germany who has already proposed to her. Her father is livid when he hears the news but his good friend knows how to calm him down; he initiates a big reconciliation party, replete with computer so that even Assétou can participate from Germany – via Skype!

But the story doesn't only have a happy end for Assétou and her family – the community benefits as well. The young couple and the singer Oumou Sangaré persuade a German NGO to build a IT center and an education center for girls and young women. Additionally, they open the first school of modern dance in Bamako.

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