August 30th marks the International Day of the Disappeared, a commemoration of the thousands of people who have gone missing throughout the world in situations of violence, disaster and armed conflict. In order to raise awareness for this day, DiA committee member and British Red Cross intern Mike Perry highlights a new creative writing initiative.
The International Day of the Disappeared was first commemorated in 1983 as a response to widespread secret and unlawful imprisonment in Latin America. Today its scope has widened to raise awareness of the unquantifiable pain caused to the hundreds of thousands of families who are unaware of the fate of their loved ones. The day also draws attention to the many organisations that work to help these vulnerable people and those they have lost. The tracing and message services of the Red Cross play a vital role in restoring family contact.
Annual efforts are made by the British Red Cross to highlight the day, and our managers had set about trying to come up with new and innovative ways to achieve this. So, as we unwittingly left the office one Monday, we were pounced upon by our managers with the idea of a poetry competition. It was up to us whether or not this would work, and if it would, to put the plan into action. After extensive research, we decided that not only was the project feasible, but that we could use the opportunity to create a unique literary competition. In order to make it as inclusive and accessible as possible, we decided that entries would not be limited to one form, simply that they should be limited to the size of an A4 piece of paper.
Trying to pin down a theme took a little more consideration. We wanted a broad theme to invite diverse entries from a wide demographic. However, we also did not want entries to lose focus of the plight of those individuals who have disappeared. To balance the two, we settled for ‘the disappeared’.
It is absolutely crucial that we take note of the extreme pain and suffering caused all over the world when individuals disappear. So please get involved and send us your entries, whether it’s a poem, a song, a story, a cartoon, or anything you can think of.
The deadline for entries is 30th August 2011. The winning entry will be awarded £50 cash, a £50 national book voucher, and a selection of commended entries will be published in a compendium to highlight the International Day of the Disappeared in 2012.
More information can be found at www.redcross.org.uk/dayofthedisappeared
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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