Saturday, February 25, 2012

Voces Del Secuestro

Did you know there's a radio program strictly dedicated to kidnapped individuals in Colombia? A decade ago, around 3,000 people were kidnapped a year in Colombia. A YEAR. Meaning, around 8 people a day. That's an astounding number. According to the information I heard this afternoon on This American Life, that number has drastically dropped to around 800 a year. But back to the radio program...

Voces Del Secuestro is a Colombian radio program that caters to this very issue. It allows loved ones to leave messages for their taken family members to be played on the airwaves. They are prompted to be positive and cheery so as to lift the spirits of their loved one. No crying, weeping or messages of despair and loss. Are these messages delivered? How do they know their effort is worthwhile? According to reporter Annie Correal, it does make a difference. Her father was kidnapped by The FARC over a decade ago and held captive for 8 months. During his captivity, a guard gave him a small black radio that became his only source of companionship and information to the outside world. During that time he tuned in every week to Voces Del Secuestro and finally heard the comforting voices of his son and wife. Miss Correal catches up with her father on a recent episode of This American Life to understand his time away and learns that she never really understood how that experience has shaped her father today.

I've been thinking about the power of radio lately. How it used to be the main source of entertainment and vivid storytelling. How it allowed your imagination to be on the forefront, to run wild with colors and images and thoughts. It created a society of thinkers and artists and a head filled with endless ideas. I never thought of its comforting and life saving attributes. I was just talking to a friend about not listening to This American Life as much. It was exciting to sit in my car oustide of work this morning glued to the radio, eagerly waiting to hear what Annie Correal would say next.

The story originally surfaced here with the assistance of producer Jay Allison.

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