By Krista Schilling
Earlier this year, the American Red Cross Serving the Northwest region successfully reconnected a family torn by crisis and conflict through the International Service’s Restoring Family Links (RFL) program. The case involved a man hailing from Somalia who had lost contact with his extended family— mother, siblings and cousins—living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Thought they hadn’t seen each other in years, they had been in consistent communication by phone. Then suddenly, all contact was lost.
The man contacted International Services in February and case was accepted by the American Red Cross International Services in April, and accepted by Ethiopia in May.
International Services was able to connect with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and locate the camp where his family was located. Pictures of the man’s family and letters from his mother were sent from Ethiopia. In August, Red Cross had located her and verified she was safe.
In September, American Red Cross serving the Northwest Region delivered the pictures and documents to the Somali man in Tacoma. “He was initially nervous to hear news about what had happened to his family,” said Krista Schilling, Regional International Services Program Manager. “He lit up at seeing pictures of his family. It had been years since he had laid eyes on them.” Schilling watched the man smile as he took in the images of his cousins. “They are growing up quickly, making him feel old.”