STORIES OF CHANGE
Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Dec 18 14
Congolese Siblings Reconnect after Years of Separation
Imagine surviving violent civil unrest only to discover that your sister is missing. Imagine your search for her yields only evidence that she has perished in her attempt to escape. Imagine drawing strength from your one remaining sibling as you arrange for her funeral and perform a traditional burial ceremony in her honor. And imagine learning more than a decade later that the sister whose funeral you arranged is alive and well in the United States. This is the story of Belle and Marie, two sisters currently living in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. In 2003, the women were separated from their sister, Julienne, when war broke out in their home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Eleven years later, after rumors convinced them Julienne was dead, the sisters were reconnected over the REFUNITE mobile platform. Belle and Marie lost contact with Julienne after civil unrest in Goma spiraled into…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Dec 18 14
A Mother’s 5 Year Search for Her Daughter
The REFUNITE mobile application described below is available only to adult (over 18) members of separated families in search of loved ones.  This is the story of Binti* – mother of three adult children, victim of war, and refugee – and of her reconnection with her oldest daughter Filan.* After years of searching, Binti discovered REFUNITE and used the mobile family-tracing platform to locate her daughter. For five years, Binti lived in fear that her children were lost forever. Residents of Mogadishu, Binti, her husband, and their three grown children were separated amid the city’s unrelenting violence. A terrorist group entered their house in search of Filan, who was not present at the time. Undeterred, the group returned three times. During the third attack, after refusing to give up Filan, Binti’s husband was kidnapped. The same group kidnapped Binti the following day. While she struggled to survive her captivity, Binti’s neighbors sent…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Dec 18 14
Two Rwandan Brothers Reconnect after Twenty Years Apart
Although he was still a child when the violence broke out, Bandele, a Rwandan refugee who now lives in Kampala, remembers a time his family lived in peace. When war ravaged his home country, Bandele was separated from his parents and siblings. For twenty years, he lived without knowledge of their whereabouts. But a chance introduction to REFUNITE led Bandele down a path to reconnect with his older brother. The two brothers continue the search for their other siblings and parents, hopeful that one day the entire family will be reconnected. “My dad used to like to watch movies and football with the whole family,” remembers Bandele, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who lost touch with his two brothers, three sisters, and parents during the war. Bandele is sitting in a sparse interview room provide by nonprofit InterAid. At this hub for refugee services in Kampala, Uganda, Bandele recounts…
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Posted by Rachel Ombaka
Dec 18 14
Lost Cousins Reconnected After 10 Years of Separation
The story below was recalled by a Congolese refugee. The details described are accurate to the best of his recollection. All names have been concealed to protect his family’s identity.After more than 10 years of separation, Congolese refugee Cedric is now reconnected with his cousin Yolanda through the REFUNITE (www.refunite.org) platform. Cedric and his younger brother were born to Burundian parents and raised in the North Kivu district in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During their early years, Cedric’s cousin Yolanda would occasionally visit them in DRC. Sadly, Cedric’s parents passed away when they were very young; he doesn’t even remember the year it happened. Despite the 14-year age difference between the cousins, Cedric has many fond memories of Yolanda’s visits. The loss of Cedric’s parents was preceded by very desperate times for the younger brothers, during which their neighbor stepped in to help raise them. While in their neighbor’s care, the boys recounted how they were mistreated and endured a lot of hardship. As…
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