VOA Urdu Show Changes Lives
A new Voice of America program in Pakistan is credited with helping to arrange life-changing eye surgery that restored the vision of an elderly man who lost his sight as the result of cataracts.
The weekly Urdu language radio program My Story debuted in February and lets ordinary people describe experiences that have shaped their lives.
Earlier this month, a 22-year-old woman called the show to talk about the hardship of life in Punjab province, where for years her father-in-law had been living in misery because he had lost his sight and the family was unable to afford eye surgery.
Following the program, producers contacted a well-known surgeon who offered to perform the operation free of charge.
This week the man’s daughter-in-law informed producers that the surgery went well and his vision had been restored. “I have no words to praise the station that gave me my eyesight back and show everyone how we could help each other,” the elderly man is quoted as saying.
My Story, which airs every Thursday in Pakistan, uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to engage and interact with its audience. Since March, the show’s Facebook page has reached more than 213,000 people in Pakistan, India and the Middle East, and the program has received thousands of e-mails and letters with new story ideas.
Urdu Service Chief Faiz Rehman says the show is groundbreaking, relating directly to its listeners. “My Story has been phenomenally successful in engaging the audiences in our target areas, and making a solid difference in people’s lives,” he says.
In the few months the Urdu Service has aired the program, My Story has reconnected a Muslim family with a kind Hindu doctor who helped the family in Indian Kashmir nearly three decades ago; assisted in getting a scholarship for a student who lost his mother, brother and home in the 2005 earthquake; and helped a villager in Baluchistan find employment after a long, unsuccessful job search.