STORIES OF CHANGE
Posted by josefine
Jul 22 19
Determined mother never gave up on her sons
In 2015, when the political conflict in Burundi hit its peak, the insecurities meant that young men who were above the age of 18 were not safe. Marina, a Congolese refugee, had 4  children and they were all urban refugees in Bujumbura. At the time Marina’s eldest sons, Joe and Eduard, were 25 and 23 years old respectively. Despite being granted refugee status, the young men’s lives were threatened so they decided to run away along with other Burundian young men. They left the country through Tanzania and lost contact with each other, only to reunite in Kenya in August 2015. They moved from one city to another looking for a means of survival until they reached Nairobi – with no hope of finding their family again. In March 2019, Marina and her two youngest children were resettled to the USA. She decided to share her story with the agency…
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Posted by josefine
Jul 22 19
The amazing bond between a son and his father
Chris was 17 years old when he and his family ran away from Burundi in 2004. They managed to find refuge in Rwanda for a short period. Upon consideration, his parents allowed him to go back to Uvira in the DRC, which was where he had been studying. A few years later Chris returned to Rwanda, only to find that his parents were not there anymore. He heard that his father, Edmond, had gone to Europe and his mother and siblings had gone to Uganda.  He moved on with his life, finding a church in which he played music. The pastor, together with some well-wishers, sent him to India to continue with his University studies – which took him 6 years. Afterwards, he returned to Rwanda and started working in casual jobs. He got married and went back to the DRC, but unfortunately from there Chris, his wife, and their…
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Posted by josefine
Jul 3 19
From the despair of never seeing his daughter to hearing her voice
Lia, 17 years old, left for school one morning like any other day, unaware that she would not be coming back home to her family. She was attending a business related course in high school, as she dreamed of becoming successful and being able to provide a comfortable life for her family. She is the first-born of a family with three brothers and two sisters. That very day in 2002, the conflict broke in Uvira and Lia didn’t manage to get back home. While trying to escape from the conflict, she was abducted and raped. She got pregnant and was helped to escape by a man who would later become her husband. He took Lia to Goma, where she gave birth to her first daughter, in 2003. In 2010, Lia’s community was attacked again and, in his attempts to protect her, her husband was taken from their home. She then…
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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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