Story by Brian Gomez, Phoenix, Arizona Chapter
PHOENIX (May 17, 2013) – Two Arizona children know their mother is alive and well in the Republic of Burundi in Africa, thanks to the efforts of the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter.
Now living with a foster family and attending middle school in Phoenix, the children had been unsure about the fate of their mother since they were 7 and 5 years old. That’s when they received refugee status at a camp in Tanzania, where they had fled to escape a civil war that killed an estimated 300,000 people between 1993 and 2005. Recently, the children have been able to exchange messages and photographs with their mother, who is 32 and remarried with two more children.
“We try to reconnect families that have been separated by armed conflict or disaster,” said Vicente Baamonde, coordinator of the Grand Canyon Chapter’s Restoring Family Links service. “The children have more opportunities here. They have established a life. They will stay here and become citizens.”
Working on behalf of Catholic Charities Community Services, a Phoenix-based humanitarian agency that advocates for refugees, it took Baamonde and his staff of Red Cross volunteers about three months to gather information regarding the location of the mother. The information was sent to Red Cross headquarters in Washington, and it eventually reached the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva before going to the Burundi delegation. The Grand Canyon Chapter is working on four more reunification cases for Catholic Charities. To initiate a search, complete a form and talk to a caseworker at the Grand Canyon Chapter, at 6135 N. Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85015.
For more on this story, please go to: http://www.redcross.org/az/phoenix/news-events/news/article/Grand-Canyon-Chapter-Connects-Phoenix-Kids-with-Mother-in-Africa