STORIES OF CHANGE
Posted by josefine
May 12 19
Reunited with his mother through the Community Leader Network, young Kenyan wants to become a REFUNITE leader
In December 2018, John was separated from his parents and was living with distant family members. However, being subject to abuse by his relatives, his living situation had gotten unbearable and John wished for nothing but a safe place to live. John decided to get as far away from the abusive family members as possible and travel across borders, ending up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Upon arrival in the DRC, John was happy to start a new life – but longed for contact with his mother, from whom he’d been separated. During a community meeting in John’s new village, one of the members of REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network was approached by a family who’d heard John’s story and knew he was looking to reconnect with his mother back in Kenya. REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network is a network of more than 4000 tribal community leaders spread across…
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Posted by josefine
May 10 19
Mother and son reconnected after three years of separation
“Mother, I’m fine!” These were the first words Shamsho, 40 years old, heard directly from her son Ibrahim, on the phone, after three years of separation. They lost contact in 2015, while they were living in Kakuma camp, in the Northwestern region of Kenya. Ibrahim, 22 years old, arrived in Kenya with his family in 2008. They were fleeing the civil war in Somalia and went straight to Dagahaley camp, in Dadaab, located in Northeastern region of Kenya. One year later, UNHCR transferred Ibrahim and his family to Kakuma camp. After graduating from secondary school, Ibrahim decided it was time to move to Mombasa to find new job opportunities. He discussed it with Shamso, who was against it. She wanted Ibrahim to remain in the camp with her and his other six siblings. One day, Shamso woke up and couldn’t find Ibrahim anywhere. She knew, in her heart, that her…
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Posted by josefine
May 6 19
Lost and found within a week
Community leader REFUNITE’s Community Leader Network has engaged more than 4000 local leaders. This network has a combined reach to more than 2.4 million people. This allows REFUNITE to support communication around communities and the information can travel fast, since the supported population already knows who they should ask for support. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, parents and children get separated every day while fleeing conflict areas. These families can be scattered  and without any contact for years. Thanks to the REFUNITE Community Leader Network, one of these families experienced the power of the communication among the network. Marcel, his wife and son left Beni due to the insecurity in the city seeking for a safer place in Goma.The family was traveling in a cargo truck. The son, Lukas, was ill and was invited by the driver to travel with him in the cabin, while the parents were accommodated…
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Posted by josefine
Nov 13 18
Somali couple reconnected after 10 years of separation
Bisharo left her hometown, Mogadishu, in Somalia, in 2008. She was fleeing the civil war in her country, which began in 1991. Bisharo had a boyfriend, Abdi, who she loved very much and to whom she was promised in marriage. However, she didn’t have time to say goodbye to him and went to Dadaab refugee camp, in Kenya, with her family. She remained in that camp for almost 3 years and then moved to Nairobi. Feeling safe and secure, Bisharo decided to search for Abdi, but she had no success in her quest. She asked about him to friends and relatives back in Somalia, but Abdi could not be found. Bisharo was heartbroken. In September 2018, Bisharo got an SMS from REFUNITE, telling her to flash a number in case she was looking for family and loved ones. Our Somali agent called her and she told about the boyfriend that…
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Posted by josefine
Oct 23 18
REFUNITE team meets community leaders from DRC
Photo: (from left to right) Guillaume Mastaki, Nathalie Badesirhe,humanitaire, Fuego El Mutaz, and Leon Simwerayi. Our REFUNITE team talks to hundreds of leaders every day, on a week basis. Usually, we connect through phone calls, but earlier this year one of our call center agents, El Fuego Mutaz, got the exceptional opportunity to meet up in Gisenyi, Rwanda, with four of our active leaders from the North Kivu Region in DRC: Madame Nathalie Badesirhe, a humanitarian agent from Goma, Maître Bashwira Murhula Zachary, a lawyer from Goma Law Court, and senior member of the national Civil Society, Mr Guillaume Mastaki, the Academic Secretary at Université de Rutshuru, and Member of a development NGO in Rutshuru, Mr Leon Simwerayi, President of “La Brigade Verte” a green environment structure from Goma. During the meeting, El Fuego and the leaders discussed the REFUNITE’s mission and its family tracing techniques, which has equipped them with the…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
May 25 15
‘I Found My Brother on REFUNITE After 8 Years of Separation!”
In 2013, a young man named Haroon attended a community forum in Dadaab refugee camp, where he learned about REFUNITE’s family tracing services. Dadaab is located in Garissa County, approximately 100 kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border. It is one of the largest refugee camps in the world and is home to more than 500,000 refugees from different conflict zones in East and Central Africa. The community forums are where refugees go to learn about the different services and programs available to them, and it is also where they get the latest news and updates from the agencies that support them. Haroon and his family come from Kismayo, a port city in the southern Lower Juba province of Somalia. During the family’s escape from renewed insurgent fighting in Somalia in 2007, they lost contact with their brother Jama*. Haroon, his mother and 4 younger siblings had been living in Dadaab for 5…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Apr 2 15
Sisters Reconnected After 9 Years Apart
Photo: Ali Abdi Hassan (left), the Outreach Volunteer who helped Fatuma Abdi (right) reconnect with her sister who lives in the US. After 9 years of separation, Fatuma Abdi, a 19-year-old woman living in a Dadaab refugee camp can finally put a smile on her face after a successful reconnection with her older sister in America through REFUNITE’s family reconnection platform. The temperature outside is 36°C. March is the hottest month of the year in Dadaab, North Eastern Kenya. Fatuma Abdi arrives at UNHCR’s field office just around 10 a.m. for an interview, in which she recounts what it was like to be reconnected with her half sister Hyboh after 9 years of separation. She is accompanied by Ali Abdi Hassan, REFUNITE’s Outreach Volunteer in Dadaab. Ali was the one who introduced Fatuma to REFUNITE’s family reconnection platform and empowered her to start the search for her missing sister. Dadaab: The World’s…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Jan 15 15
Finding Hope: Somali Cousins Reconnect After 17 Years Apart
Zahra Ahmed, a Somali refugee, was reconnected with her cousin through the REFUNITE platform after 17 years apart. Before the civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991, Zahra and Abdi were your typical lively children. They went to madrasa (Islamic school), played and spent a lot of time together. 
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Dec 18 14
Two sisters reconnected after 16 years of separation
Early that morning, Estelle* had gone to fetch some water for her family and five children. When she returned to the village, women, men and children were in total panic. The rebel soldiers were drunk or under the influence of drugs, showing no mercy when raiding the village and torturing the people. Estelle immediately knew that the only option she had was to run for her life. She managed to get her children who were at a neighbor’s house, but had to leave both her parents and siblings behind, including her cousin Patricia*, who had always been like a sister to her. Estelle followed a crowd of people that were running away towards a forest. The group kept walking for hours, and Estelle remembers how her children were hungry and how blisters were soon hurting her bare feet. The people around her were talking about a place called Tanzania and…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Dec 18 14
Reconnected after 22 years of separation
The following is the story of Rahma* and how she found her father and brother through the online reconnection platform after 22 years of separation. Rahma and her husband, Said, recounted their story on April 4th, 2013.  Please note that this story was told in Somali and has been translated to English for use by REFUNITE. *All names within this retelling have been changed to help ensure anonymity. Rahma was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1990. When the war broke out in Somalia, like so many others, her father and brother fled to Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya, for their safety. Rahma stayed behind in Somalia and was raised by her mother. When she was only 5 years old, her mother passed away, and a short 5 years later, her grandmother passed away as well in the year 2000. With no family left, Rahma was fortunate when she was taken-in by another…
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