16/03/2014

Bogotá, Colombia-Christian Profile Online Newspaper.

Sonia Velásquez in “Extreme Makeover – Home LA Edition” supports our Peace to Overcome AIDS Campaign


BUILDING THE DREAMS OF LATIN-AMERICAN FAMILIES-EXLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SONIA VELÁSQUEZ

For those who are TV reality show regulars, it can be almost certain that they have come across “Extreme Make-Over-Home Edition”, the program which is like a Cinderella story and makes dreams come true by converting individuals’ old, unappealing homes into large, comfortable and modern dwellings in only seven days.

In the Latin American version of this entertaining program, one of the famous faces is that of the attractive Sonia Velasquez. In this exclusive interview with Christian Profile, Sonia talks about her career as a “philanthropic journalist” and some of the current programs that bring satisfaction to her viewers.

Colombian-born and American by adoption, this outstanding host and journalist does not hide behind a computer or a microphone, but rather, takes the appropriate measures to battle for what she believes in. “I learned how to follow this path in a time where there were few idols in philanthropic journalism. I decided to create the “Uniendo Mundos” TV program in the US in 2007. It was a collection of stories and testimonies of social entrepreneurs who, one day, decided to make a different in their communities, by passionately initiating sustainable projects. It caught my attention that many accomplished great things with hardly any resources. There were years were I had to knock on a lot of doors, but this all changed when Radio Caracol Miami gave me an amazing opportunity to work with José Antonio Ponseti. Through this work, I helped people from all over the world to join forces with the sole purpose of helping others realize their potential to be inspired and inspire. After this opportunity, I got to work for NBC Telemundo, Fashion TV, Infinito… and the list goes on…” said Sonia when she introduced herself for the interview.

For some years, “Extreme Make Over –Home Edition” could only be watched on some channels like Infinito or Discovery Home & Health. For the last two seasons however, it extended its network to South America and to especially Chile and Argentina, in which viewers became proud supporters of Sonia due to her position as a role model for Latin American women that she and her co-workers constantly exemplified in the reality show.

With respect to the South American experience with this program, Sonia explains that: “After 10 years in the United States and travelling parts of the world, I decided to assign the show to Argentina, where they have social vision, an incredible sense of gender equality and remarkable television production. I proposed my vision to some producers with the idea of promoting social reconstruction and sustainability due to concrete action and it with this, that the executives of the Turner and Canal Infinito channels took my show under their wings”.

After several challenges, I was awarded this great responsibility.  It was time to put my words into action and help alleviate the needs of the most courageous families struggling on a daily basis to raise their children in the most difficult conditions. This show is perhaps, one of the most expensive Latin TV programs and because of this an intense preproduction is necessary. I had to wait two months until the show was ready to be produced. I remember having to reject other proposals due to this project that I had passionately taken on. This challenge required and still requires my total and absolute commitment”.



Sonia splits her time between Miami and Buenos Aires, where episodes of EMO are being filmed.  She states that “Argentina is a leader in social issues and by living here, my perspective on gender equity, inclusion and meritocracy (a Columbian term that speaks of merit rather that cronyism) has broadened. In Argentina, I work for the Communications Portfolio of the More Peace Less AIDS Foundation (www.maspazmenossida.org), an organization that works hand in hand with UNWOMEN to empower people to avoid gender violence and prevent its consequences. The organization will soon be celebrating its International Day of Peace to Overcome AIDS, which is a reminder to civil society and to all about the thousands of women, including 36.1% of them in the Americas, who according to WHO, have been raped in their homes and communities. This day is to prevent events like this from ever happening again and to educate society on how peace can be used as a tool to overcome violence and HIV/AIDS”.

Sonia divides her time between her dedication to social causes and TV production. The filming process is extensive and usually takes between 10-14 hours of continuous work per day. She is involved in every step of the show’s production. She confesses: “My goal is to take care of every involved family members’ hopes in regards to their home”.

Sonia makes an impression by her influential presence and incredible conviction to uphold every word. It is clear that her words are not clichés or fake and that rather, she has made her career the ultimate work and accomplishment of her life. The temptation is to continue to ask her a number of questions about her life and charity work, but we only bother her one more minute before closing the interview. She finishes by saying: “In my work, I have found that education is the best gift we can give. To educate without imposing values, to teach with love. Every individual has their unique calling and this starts from within and works its way from the stomach to the eyelids. Stick to this calling like a hope for salvation, follow it, pursue it and you will find your path”.