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 | Donna Connell

Radio station in Guatemala continues important broadcasting

Lourdes Tzoc Ramirez, director of Nawal Estereo Radio in Nahualá, recently reported that the station continues to broadcast eighteen hours each day of the week. Programming includes youth topics, women’s issues, elder care, health education, pandemic updates, religious events, regional news, community celebrations and other cultural interests.

As part of regularly scheduled broadcasting, Mass at Santa Catarina Church in Nahualá is transmitted every Sunday morning. Recently, newly appointed Bishop Domingo Buezo Leiva’s visit to Nahualá (see photo of procession) was covered live as was an exhortation for peace in the area by Nahuala’s Fr. Carlos Sipac.

To increase awareness about the state of emergency that was issued for Nahualá and New Ixtahuacan (due to renewed conflict over land borders between the two communities), radio staff interviewed government officials at the radio station in December.

In February, the radio station held a fundraiser raffle and raised $8,551 of the $11,000 needed to repair a transmitter which was damaged by a lightning storm.

Nawal Estereo broadcasts to over 1.5 million people in the Sololá area, mainly in native languages with some Spanish transmissions. In order to reach the remote areas of the Highlands in Sololá, radio personnel use a pickup truck (provided by a donor in the Spokane diocese) to transport equipment and staff to broadcast special activities directly from outlying communities.

The radio station was founded in 1962 by Fr. John Rompa, Spokane diocesan priest assigned to Nahualá, to expand communication in this remote area of Guatemala. Initially, the radio station assisted in teaching Spanish to thousands of people whose first language was K’iche’ or Kaqchikel, and provided religious programming.

In 1965, Sr. Janel Druffel (School Sisters of Notre Dame), raised in Colton, Wa., assumed leadership of the radio station which, in 1997, gained FM frequency 93.1.  Sr. Janet effectively guided the radio station in religious and educational programming for fifty years. She received the Papal Cross in 1991 for her work in Guatemala.  Sr. Janet was integral to transitioning the radio station to local leadership.

Thank you to parishes and individuals from the Spokane Diocese who support the radio station, including Sacred Heart Parish in Pullman, St. Patrick and St. Francis Parishes in Walla Walla, and St. Gall Parish, Colton.