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I am Alive – Restoring Family Links

April 15, 2009

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Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. Jane Howard

You wake up in the morning, get up to brush your teeth and there in the mirror pops up a familiar face. Beneath your exterior exists another you, a part of you that carries a million memories with your loved ones spread across borders. What if one day due to  a  natural disaster or armed conflict you lose all ties with your loved ones? What would you do to reunite with them? In this week’s first article; I’ll be highlighting one such case; an Aunt’s search for her lost blood ties, her twin nieces who are fighting their lost identities in a small camp based in Tanzania.

In a day and age when domestic violence has become an open day policy in every other household; it is highly motivating to see people who are still keen on restoring family links. I dedicate this article to all those people who have sacrificed their lives in hopes of sustaining a peaceful family life.

Bound under confidentiality, I will be unable to disclose names here. The case revolves around twin sisters, born in early 1990s in Nyanza Lac, Burundi. Having lost their mother at an early age; the girls were being raised by their mother’s employee who passed away a few years ago, leaving them all alone in a world they had yet to understand. To escape the conflict zone, they fled to seek refuge in a camp based in Tanzania; where the girls are presently living. About a week ago, they were led by camp officials to the Burundi embassy, where they were notified that they will soon be sent back to Burundi.  The girls didn’t take this too well considering they have no family ties in Burundi; it seemed like a whole new world to them. In fear of being deported back to Burundi they managed to escape from the embassy and spent the next few days on the streets. However, they couldn’t get too far and were brought back to the camp.

Every day brought with it a new fear; they were unable to escape the camp, yet scared to stay in fears of being deported. Caught in a web of confusion and terror, they had lost all hopes of sustaining a peaceful future. Here comes their golden ticket; their family link, their Aunt. Across the seas; their Aunt; mother’s sister, who presently resides in the United States, finds out through a third party of her sister’s passing away and her nieces fleeing to Tanzania. She had lost all contact with her relatives during the mid 90s, when she had fled to Congo due to severe war and conflict in the Burundi region.

With the help of the International Services at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, a connection has now been established between the twins and their Aunt. Soon, they will be escaping their solo life to join hands and hearts with their loved one; their Aunt. Together let us pray for this miracle of reunion.

We cannot destroy kindred: our chains stretch a little sometimes, but they never break. Marquise de Sévigné

For information on all available International Services programs offered by the American Red Cross; please be directed to the following website:

International Services @ the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago

2 Comments
  1. Emily permalink*
    April 16, 2009 9:20 am

    Wow, this is a great and heart-warming story. I really enjoyed this.

  2. mariazk permalink
    April 17, 2009 3:46 pm

    Thanks Emily; I have witnessed many similar stories while working at the Red Cross.
    Not all of them result in reunions, some can be quite sad, but I wanted to start off on a good note. Will write more on this topic next week.

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