A History of Restoring Family Links: Finding Family in the Former Yugoslavia

I am new to volunteering with the Restoring Family Links program at the American Red Cross and have been digitizing old paper files from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990’s. I see many thank you notes, pictures and hand-written messages in hundreds of foreign languages and many different beautiful scripts. I have been so moved by some of the cases and amazed by the global work of the Red Cross network, and wanted to share these stories.

One case I recently stumbled across came as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. This series of conflicts has been called the deadliest since WWII. Many of the actions that took place during the war were genocidal, and it’s now infamous for the war crimes that took place.

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My Red Cross Role Model

My Red Cross Role Model

Cris began her Restoring Family Links journey in 2014, when she sought out a meaningful way to use her time and attended a Red Cross volunteer orientation. Knowing she would be helping families reconnect was all the reason she needed to want to work with Restoring Family Links and American Red Cross International Services.

As a brand new Red Cross volunteer, I had the excellent opportunity to spend my very first Restoring Family Links (RFL) casework learning experience with Cris Tsai as my mentor! Since Cris’ parents are from Taiwan and she was born and raised in Brazil (she speaks fluent Portuguese and English) her compassion for working with families scattered across the globe comes straight from her heart.

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Across the Border: Boy Reunited with Family after Four Years

Across the Border: Boy Reunited with Family after Four Years

A tribal raid in Ethiopia four years ago saw then-8-year-old Luke Chan* taken from his family and moved across the border into South Sudan. The child was forced to work in a cattle camp while longing for his family and loved ones.

The time away from his family was long and difficult, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Ethiopia and South Sudan, in close cooperation with the respective Red Cross societies, has successfully reunited Luke with his family.

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Separated by War, Reconnected by Red Cross

Separated by War, Reconnected by Red Cross

2017 began with very good news for Samuel! He received a Red Cross Message from his younger sister Mimi, for whom he had been searching for many years. The last time the two saw one another was 21 years ago at a family gathering in Ethiopia. The family lost touch with young Mimi, when she and her family fled the violence of the war in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Samuel contacted the American Red Cross chapter in Connecticut to initiate a search for his sister over a year ago. After much effort to gather needed details, speaking with his brother, who is closer to their younger sister, comparing dates and clarifying facts, the tracing inquiry was sent to Red Cross volunteers overseas to begin a search.

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