At the age of 23, Gao travelled to Thailand to escape intense fighting in his native Shan State in the east of Myanmar (Burma) and possible recruitment into the Shah army.
The sun is just beginning its descent as a knot of farmers gathers around a small, portable radio in the grounds of the Nachol Pilot High School in Bangladesh’s northwestern Chapainawabganj district, about 300 kilometres from the capital, Dhaka.
In 1983, producers of popular radio, alternative radio and educational radio convened in Montreal to define a new genre of radio: community radio. Those dialogues led to the formation of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).
For the first time in El Salvador, a community radio is broadcasting under its own licence. The struggle continues, however, for legislative change that will give these kinds of broadcasters more airspace.
A community radio station silenced by Haitian authorities is open again thanks to the mobilisation of other stations as well as organisations and associations both inside and outside of Haiti.
Every morning from 6:00 to 8:00 AM, native people in this sprawling working-class suburb of La Paz, Bolivia listen to the programme broadcast by former education minister Donato Ayma in the Aymara language.
"Atispa mana atispa ñawpajman rinanchis tiyan" ("Power without power, we have to keep moving forward”) in the Quechua language, Ruth Rojas told her listeners at the end of a series of radio programmes on political culture, broadcast to indigenous women in Bolivia.
Uruguay took a giant step towards more democratic media when it passed a law on community radio broadcasting in 2007. But although regulations for the law were approved in late 2010, many broadcasters are now off the air and waiting to be assigned a frequency.
The Onda Rural communication for development initiative in Peru has come up with a range of strategies to get information out to remote villages, to help them with decision-making on questions like climate change adaptation or disaster preparedness.
Cleaning up a stream that used to be a garbage dump and restocking it with fish, or helping demobilised far-right paramilitaries reintegrate into society by returning to school, are some of the early outcomes of a project involving community radio stations in a remote area of northwest Colombia.
Nisreen Awwad moves closer to the microphone as she signs off to her listeners, the words "Nisaa FM: music, change, success" displayed prominently over her left shoulder.