Bogota, Colombia (SEE COLOMBIA) August 13, 2012
Nicole Kisala could remember little of her childhood in Colombia. She could recall her mother’s long, black hair; she remembered the dimple on her dad’s chin; she could also vaguely bring to mind the last conversation she had with her older brother before she lost sight of him. It was at this moment that Nicole was approached by a woman in black, who held her hand and took her away. She was never told her name, or anything of her family. She was kidnapped, and then adopted by a loving family in the United States.
This was 36 years ago when she was 4 or 5 years old. This year Nicole decided to try and trace her family. In her quest she contacted a travel blog based in Colombia that she had found online. That blog was Marcela’s Colombia Travel Blog, a blog run by one of the fastest-growing online travel agencies offering Colombia Tours, See Colombia Travel.
During the 1970s to 1980s kidnappings of disadvantaged children in order to sell them to adoption agencies was a common phenomenon in Colombia. During the search for Nicole’s family, the Colombia Travel Blog found several similar cases of Colombian adoptees without ties to their natural families.
The chances of Nicole being successful were indeed slim. The blog team was hopeful, but wary of having too many expectations; Colombia is a large country, and Nicole came from a humble family somewhere near or within Bogotá. Her family worked on a small cart that sold soda and lunches to locals. Nicole and the Colombia Travel Blog knew that the likelihood of her family having internet access was low.
Nonetheless, social media has been changing the way we live for years now. Thanks to the growing popularity of blogs people are becoming connected in unprecedented and unexpected ways. Harnessing this connectivity, the Colombia Travel Blog released a series of posts, which they then shared with their followers on Facebook and Twitter. They viralized images, videos and stories, reaching thousands of people all over the world.
The online response was overwhelming, eventually finding Nicole on international TV. The Colombia Travel Blog shared Nicole’s spot on television, reposted it online and was subsequently contacted with the crucial lead they needed. Nicole’s parents had split after the kidnapping, unable to bear the pain. Her father had taken her brother to Venezuela, and it was in Venezuela that a relative saw the story online and contacted Nicole’s biological brother. He contacted Nicole using the contact details on the blog’s viralized image.
Nicole came to Colombia to find her family in the last days of July. Last week, in Bogota, for the first time in over 35 years, she emotionally embraced her mother. “I couldn’t believe it,” she recalled. “I was stunned. It was so wonderful to finally be in the arms of my mother and family,” continued Nicole. “I had nothing to go on. I did not know my name, birthdate or anything. All my adoption papers were falsified and my adoptive family was lied to and told I was abandoned. I can’t thank Marcela and her team enough for all they’ve done.”
CEO of See Colombia Travel, Marcela Mariscal, has assisted Nicole consistently in her venture, providing translations and helping to link together leads from various sources. It was her that started the now collaborative blog about Colombia, and its success has come as a shock for her. “I started all this on my own in a flat in Buenos Aires three years ago. I just wanted to tell people about my home country and give tips about Colombia Travel. I never thought it would become big enough to change someone’s life so dramatically,” said Mariscal. “I’ve had hope all along for Nicole, but sometimes you had to doubt we’d ever do it. We have to thank all our Twitter followers, all our Facebook friends, all our blog readers and anyone else involved. The response to our efforts was fantastic.”
The journey of Nicole has been captured by French television, and will be the basis of a documentary released later this year. It is also set to become a book.
Indeed, Nicole’s is an incredible story. It’s one that demonstrates the power of travel blogging, digital media and the potential of our online world. It shows that despite the billions of dollars spent on big companies such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the online world really comes down to creating human connections between people. A travel blog about Colombia has managed to show that, for people like Nicole, blogs, social media and the internet aren’t just changing the way we live; they’re changing lives.
About the See Colombia Travel Blog
Marcela’s Colombia Travel blog is the most popular Colombia Travel Blog in English. See Colombia Travel consists of a team of international travel experts with a passion for Colombia committed to create the best off the shelf and customizable tours around Colombia matching Colombians astonishing destinations with international standard travel services. https://www.seecolombia.travel Contact: Paul Fowler: [email protected]