Radio La Benevolencija
Established in 2002, Radio La Benevolencija Humanitarian Tools Foundation (RLB) is a Dutch NGO committed to the empowerment of minorities and social groups that are, have been or are in danger of becoming, the victims of ethnocentric or other forms of hate violence. It promotes an agenda of sanity, empathy and mutual help among those who are the target of hate speech, as well as among societies that have suffered its consequences. It is strictly non-ethnic, non-denominational and non-governmental.
Radio La Benevolencija HTF takes as its role model La Benevolencija Sarajevo, a local organization that played a unique humanitarian role during the Bosnian war (1992-1995). It is as a result of the work of founding Director, George Weiss, for this organization that, in 2002, a group of Amsterdam-based media professionals was inspired to set up an organisation to produce media projects in La Benevolencija’s unique spirit of solidarity with, and empowerment of, people who are the targets of hate violence.
Using a combination of edutainment methodologies and comparative psychological research, RLB’s media intervention in Rwanda, the DRC and Burundi is a prototype campaign to embed, in national audiences, scientific knowledge of how to resist the psychological pressures and demagoguery that turn individuals into perpetrators of mass hate. RLB’s radio soaps, factual documentaries and educational programmes, in combination with grassroots activities, convey this knowledge while simultaneously stimulating best practices of active bystandership. Regular parallel impact evaluations are conducted to measure the effectiveness of this Intervention tool and to ensure that the strategies and methodologies are attuned to specific contexts.
The educational component of La Benevolencija radio (and recent television) programs, and grassroots activities, is informed by the research and theory of Professor Ervin Staub of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on the origins of genocide and other mass violence, their prevention, and reconciliation, and on Dr. Laurie Anne Pearlman’s work on trauma and recovery. They and their associates (Rezarta Bilali, Adin Thayer and Johanna Vollhardt) are involved in developing and editing programs in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo (DRC). Much of this work is described in Staub’s 2011 book, Overcoming Evil: Genocide, violent conflict and terrorism.
Board of Directors
La Benevolencija is supported by elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of the organisation.