Exploration 5D: Extension Activities

The Plight of Families of the Missing

Think about the anguish of families with no news of relatives who are missing – families who do not know whether their loved ones are wounded, lost and hungry, imprisoned or dead.

Write a short poem or essay to voice their plight.

I still believe and hope that my husband is alive and will come back to his family so we can all live normally together. But I need to know his fate – one way or another. There are thousands like me. We deserve answers to our questions.

- Woman whose husband, a colonel in the Bosnian Army, has been missing for several years

Message of Hope

Read the following story.

From Manila to Baghdad: Hope in a Family Message

As she does every morning, Maria listens to the news on the radio. The news from the Gulf is particularly alarming today: the bombing of Baghdad has begun. Maria begins to worry about her sister, who is working as a nurse in Iraq and from whom she has not heard for several months. The telephone lines between her country, the Philippines and Baghdad have been cut and there is no longer any postal service. Maria despairs of ever seeing her sister again.

Some days later, she hears talk of the tracing service of the Philippine Red Cross in Manila. She goes there at once and her hopes revive: she is encouraged to write a family message which will be delivered to her sister through the ICRC delegates in Iraq. Less than a month later, Maria receives a call from the Red Cross telling her that a reply to her message has arrived. Maria sheds tears of relief – her sister is alive!

Write the message that Maria may have written to her sister and the sister’s reply.

Restoring Family Links

Look again at the photo collage. Note the many ways emotions are expressed.

Make a poster to inform people about tracing and reuniting families. What message will you use?


Inspired by the following story, convey the emotions of a family reunification in any art form.

Three women eager for Red Cross messages

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop in the main room of an old farmhouse in northern Albania as Andye Kortoci, a village elder, began to read out Red Cross messages. The pages trembled in his rough hands, but no one noticed. The three women surrounding him hung on his every word.

Each woman had received a message: one from her brother, one from her husband and one from her son, all of whom had borne weapons during the conflict in Kosovo and had been detained in Serbia for nearly two years.

The three detainees come from the same village, Myhejan, where their absence weighs heavily on their families. Their work – cultivating fields, tending cattle and other farm chores – has been taken over, as far as possible, by the rest of the community. Even the children must pitch in.

Selim Musa, an Albanian Red Cross worker, makes the trek to Myhejan about once every three months, to bring Red Cross messages that arrive from Serbia, via Tirana. So few visitors come to Myhejan that the villagers recognize his silhouette from afar. Selim Musa is the only link left between the detainees and their families in Albania.

- ICRC News, March 2001