A late Christmas presentEveryone was happy. It was Christmas day and all took turns phoning members of our family that were not with us. This included my sister Mercedes who was in Somalia working withDoctors without borders.We were in our family home in a small village of the North of Spain where it was cold butsunny and weather was mild for the time of the year.We spent the Afternoon in Leon with my brother walking around the city and cathedralwhich was spectacularly lit, the streets were full of other families that went out for a walk visitingthe public displays of the Nativity here and there.On Boxing day I put on the radio while I was having breakfast, when I heard in the newsthat a Spanish doctor working for Doctors without Borders had been kidnapped in Somalia fewhours before. I immediately thought “it could be my sister”.But then I thought there must be many Spanish Doctors there and it is a big country.I was just finishing my breakfast when the phone rang It was my sister in law telling me itwas Mercedes who had been kidnapped.The Head of “Doctors without Borders” and someone from the Foreign Office had contactedmy brother telling him that Mercedes and an Argentinian had been captured as they were going towork in a Land Rover.The driver had been forced out of the car at gunpoint and four armed men had driven thegirls into the rough hills near Bosaso, a port city in the Horn of Africa, with half a millioninhabitants.I immediately drove to my brother’s house to see what we could do. We were told that thekidnappers had asked for 250.000 €. The Spanish Government told us that they would negotiate for their freedom and that we should do and say nothing for the moment.Another area of concerned was the health of my 91 year old mother we all agreed to keepthe truth from her for as long as possible, and maybe by then Mercedes was free. I was deeplyworried for Mercedes and the danger she was in.It must have been a quiet time for news because the Spanish TV and radio started broadcasting reports about the kidnapping of Mercedes. None of the personal information was veryaccurate mostly because we refused to comment on the situation.They knew she was 50 and that she was born in Leon and had studied Medicine in Santiagode Compostela.The next report gave details about the place where she was kidnapped, it was a small multi-cultural, market city full of people from Yemen, Kenya and Somalia itself, the broadcast showedtypical scenes of the extreme poverty of place and people walking along the streets from morningtill night and their daily struggle just to survive.I tried to imagine myself in my sister’s place. I shivered thinking how frightened she must be. On the other hand I knew Mercedes was very tough and she would be able to survive anydifficult situation provided she had not already been killed.Our nightmare lasted for a week, we were harassed by the local and national TV stationswanting any sort of information to entertain their Spanish audience so fond of watching TV,specially at Christmas and the more sensationalist the better.Three vans set up their cameras near our house and I dare not go out through the front door without being mobbed and had to slip out of the back gate if I wanted to leave.