LUANG PRABANG, Lao People's Democratic Republic, 16 January 2009 – The thought of going live on the air might be daunting to most people, but not to Pany Vilaychith, 18. Despite her youth, she is the lead presenter on 'Smile of Hope', a weekly broadcast from a radio station covering Luang Prabang province, a mountainous area of northern Lao PDR.
The programme is part of a four-year-old initiative run by Lao National Radio with backing from UNICEF, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
“I’ve been involved with the radio project for four years now,” Pany explains, taking a break from recording in the station’s small studio. “What I like about it most is that it gives me the chance to share information on lots of different issues with young people.”