Project #1016

Radios to Support Tsunami Survivors in Indonesia

by Lifeline Energy
One of 10 Lifeline radios signed by Tom Hanks
One of 10 Lifeline radios signed by Tom Hanks

New York, January 21, 2008…. The Freeplay Foundation announced today that two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks will participate in a charity auction hosted on eBay Giving Works Jan 22-Feb 1 to support the Freeplay Foundation.

Tom Hanks, the Freeplay Foundation’s U.S. Ambassador, will autograph 10 self-powered Freeplay Lifeline radios for the charity auction on eBay Giving Works, eBay’s dedicated program for charity listings. Each high bidder also will receive a personal letter and a signed photo from Mr. Hanks.

“The Lifeline radio can change the world – one person, one house, one village at a time,” said Mr. Hanks. “The beauty of the Freeplay Foundation is the radio itself and the immediacy of its mission: to put radios in the hands of people who need them. Lifeline radios can make a positive impact from the moment they are turned on in one of the villages.”

People can go to or can click on to place their bids and to watch a special video from Tom Hanks.

Lifeline radios are not sold commercially; they are the first radios ever produced specifically for use in humanitarian projects. Radio is the primary means of mass communication in developing countries, but often, transistor radio batteries cost too much for people to buy on an ongoing basis and electricity is non-existent. The Freeplay Foundation provides radio access to the poorest people in the world via the wind-up and solar-powered radios, which do not require batteries or electricity.

Working mainly in Africa, the Freeplay Foundation enables hundreds of thousands of children to learn English, math, science and life skills through radio distance-learning programs. Coffee farmers learn new planting techniques using Lifeline radios, and people throughout Africa learn how to prevent HIV/AIDS while listening to their Lifelines. Nomadic tribes listen to Lifeline radios as they caravan, and orphaned children -- living completely on their own – can grasp a “lifeline” to the outside world when listening.

“The first time I held a Lifeline, I felt like I was carrying all the promise of the modern world in my hand,” remembers Tom Hanks. “Music can come out of the sky without batteries being tossed into landfills. Information can be sent and received, and voices of freedom can be heard. All by winding up this little box.” The Freeplay Foundation is a fund-seeking organization with 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status in the U.S., is a registered charity in the UK, and has Section 21 non-profit status in South Africa.


Media contacts: East Coast: Alexandrea Ravenelle, Global Fluency (646) 652-5216 West Coast: Brielle Schaeffer, Global Fluency (650) 433-4163 For the Freeplay Foundation: Michelle Riley (912) 898-2195



The Freeplay Foundation is delighted to announce its selection as one of 119 finalists among over 2,500 entrants in the World Bank's highly competitive Development Marketplace 2006 programe.

Freeplay's new Weza (power in Swahili) foot-powered generator is a robust, environmentally friendly and portable energy source that offers dependable power for everyday use and emergencies. Fifty mainly women 'Weza Pioneers' in Rwanda will be equipped with business start-up kits, training and low-risk financing, to establish cash based energy service micro-businesses. The project will enable us to assess the Weza's technical performance in harsh rural settings, fine-tune micro-loan mechanisms and price points and gauge the scalability and replicability of the new Freeplay Weza micro-enterprise model within and beyond Rwanda.

The Foundation's entry for a pilot project to launch Freeplay Weza based micro enterprises in Rwanda will be presented at a Development Marketplace meeting on 8-9 May in Washington, DC. Successful finalists will receive grants of up to $200,000 each. The Foundation's partners in this innovative initiative include Freeplay Energy Plc, CARE Rwanda, Cornell University's Center for Global Sustainable Enterprise and Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.


Throughout 2005, the Freeplay Foundation’s radio project in Indonesia has been the focus of a remarkable international network of partners, working together in a truly global relief and development effort, to provide sustained access to radio information and communications for tsunami survivors.

Through contact with the Disaster Relief Network, established during the World Economic Forum in Davos (attended by our executive director and operations manager), Cosco became our transport partner. The company provided free shipping for Freeplay Foundation’s first consignment of 500 self-powered Lifeline radios that arrived in Medan in June.

Meanwhile, Mercy Corps, our primary distribution partner, worked hard on the ground, identifying appropriate groups and associations to become early recipients and ‘guardians’ of Freeplay Lifeline radios. VSOs and Social Revitalization staff in 27 Return Villages in Aceh Barat district and 42 in Banda Aceh/Aceh Besar selected the following target groups for initial radio distributions:

Meunasah (prayer and community centers) (64), Relief/Recovery posts (28). PKK (Family Welfare Programs) (24), Posyandu (Maternal/Child clinics) (16), Head of Village (16), Mosque Youth (7), Mosque Leader /Imam (5), Sport group (5), Youth Organization (4), Fisherman Association (3),

As with other Freeplay Foundation Lifeline radio projects, tsunami radio distributions are implemented in a highly structured format. Several people from each recipient group are present, with one person nominated as the formal ‘guardian. The properties and use of the radio are demonstrated: Freeplay Lifelines are powered both by detachable solar panel and wind-up crank handle, so they do not need batteries. They have other features specifically designed for humanitarian use in harsh conditions, such as a detachable aerial. Each radio has an individual serial number, which is recorded on the written agreement signed by the distributing partner and the beneficiary. Where necessary this agreement is read aloud, to ensure that all recipients understand exactly what they are signing. This rigorous implementation model has helped to ensure that Lifeline radio listening groups take best care and can make full use of their radios. It also means that remarkably few radios ever go missing or are stolen.

Laminated instruction sheets in local language are distributed and information is provided about radio station frequencies/programs with particular relevance for beneficiaries. In Indonesia, the independent radio station 68H became Freeplay Foundation’s broadcasting partner at the start of our tsunami relief efforts. We are proud to be associated with 68H: as well as creating and transmitting vital information, advice and support programs for tsunami survivors, 68H station staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly on the ground to dig wells and rebuild the transmitting stations that were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami.

Groups targeted by Mercy Corps for radio distribution by end December 2005 are: 180 Schools (including 90 state schools and Islamic boarding schools, of whom a portion will receive radios later than others because they are not yet functioning.); 106 IDP barracks (1 per barrack); 42 Village government offices.

The second phase of Freeplay Foundation’s tsunami radio project has brought new distribution partners into the network. In late October, Oxfam took delivery in Medan of a second consignment of 752 Lifeline radios. After clearing customs, Oxfam retained 400 Lifelines and passed the remaining 352 to our third distribution partner, the International Medical Corps. These two organizations will engage over coming weeks in distributing radios to their identified beneficiaries.

In the wake of the disaster, as survivors reestablish and rebuild lives, sustained access to information and advice can make a critical difference between life and death, between despair and hope. Tsunami survivors have greatly impressed the international community with their resilience and capacity to recover and restore their communities during 2005. We at Freeplay Foundation feel privileged to be able to support them.

As we approach the first anniversary of that devastating day when the world changed forever for so many, Freeplay Foundation expresses gratitude to all our partners for their different contributions to this Lifeline tsunami radio relief project in Indonesia. To none are we more grateful than to our colleagues at Global Giving and the project’s many donors. To Duran Duran and to Hewlett Packard’s Employee Giving Fund, to C. Crane Company and to all those individuals without whose generosity our work would be impossible - Thank You All!



The Freeplay Foundation is delighted to announce that Kristine Pearson has been honored with the 2005 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, sponsored by Applied Materials, Inc.

The 2005 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award sponsored by Applied Materials, Inc. will be presented to Kristine Pearson, Executive Director of the Freeplay Foundation at the November 9th, Tech Awards Gala. The Award was inspired by Jim Morgan’s belief that technology can be a tool to unleash the potential in each of us, to turn our ideas into concrete solutions for a better, healthier, more just world. Kristine Pearson will be honoured for her humanitarian leadership, which is having a profound impact on the world.


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Organization Information

Lifeline Energy

Location: Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​

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