“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 son has left without saying goodbye and was fearing for his safety.
When he reached the coastal city of Mombasa, Ibrahim was arrested and remained in jail for three months. By the time he was released, Ibrahim realized he had completely lost contact with his family. He couldn’t reach his mother anymore.
In August 2018, Ibrahim got an SMS from REFUNITE, which was suggesting him to flash a phone number in case he was in need to find missing family. A REFUNITE agent called him back and learned about his story. He shared his mother’s details and the information they all used to live together in Kakuma.
The REFUNITE team shared the information with one of its community leaders in Kakuma, who immediately started to search for Shamso. After talking with many people, the leader found out that Shamso had left to Kismayo, Somalia, after joining the he tripartite voluntary repatriation, led by UNHCR. Fortunately, one of community members in Kakuma had an information that could lead us to Shamso.
The REFUNITE agent called the number collected by the leader and it was Shamso’s. Later, on the same day, we managed to put mother and son on the phone, for the first time, in three years. The Somali family, now reconnected, is planning to have Ibrahim joining them in Kismayo and rebuilding their lives, all together, this time.