A VOA Snapshot - Part of the continuing coverage in this, VOA's 60th Anniversary Year
Many VOA Broadcasters are political exiles - people who fled oppressive regimes and found work broadcasting back to their home countries. Some of them had to leave home under dramatic circumstances. Zamira Edwards said, "Eighteen years have passed and I have never forgotten that twelve hour experience."
It was August, 1984, 27-year-old Zamira and her sister Isabella, age 31, waded into the Ionian sea on the coast of Albania, and set out to swim to freedom. Their brother Klement was with them.
"We left Saranda," Zamira continued,"of course it was night, we just jumped in the water."
It was only a few kilometers across the sea to the Greek island of Corfu. But the sea was rough. In the morning, exhausted and close to drowning, the sisters were rescued by some men on a yacht, not far off the Greek coast. But their brother had disappeared in the sea.
"We were never able to find our brother," she said. "And for many, many years we hoped that he was alive. My sister and I arrived in the U.S. and we have had a very good life. But, the negative side of that story is that our brother didn't make it."
Shortly after their arrival in the United States, Zamira and Isabella started working at the Voice of America.
"When I was back in Albania," she said, "I listened to VOA, and I never thought I would be part of VOA. You have this great opportunity of being part of a radio that helped inform the people that were so much locked out of the rest of the world."
Albania is no longer the repressive state it was 18 years ago, but VOA remains popular. And the two girls who swam to freedom that fateful night now are well-known radio personalities back home.
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