Red Cross helps Restore Family Connection

Story by American Red Cross Massachusetts Region

Yakov Maknovskiy

Yakov Maknovskiy

As a part of the International Red Cross Red Crescent community, each American Red Cross chapter plays a key role in the Restoring Family Links program. During the chaos and confusion of war, disaster and migration, families often become separated and the Red Cross uses its international connections to help these families find each other and reconnect. Recently, the American Red Cross of Massachusetts had the opportunity to help a local Chelmsford resident, Yakov Maknovskiy.

Maknovskiy has lived in the United States ever since he fled Ukraine when the Nazis invaded his country in the early 1940’s when he was only three years old. While Maknovskiy’s immediate family made a harrowing escape that included German airplanes dive-bombing the train he and his family rode to escape, other members of his extended family were not so lucky. In the chaos of WWII and the years following, Maknovskiy lost touch with his family members that remained in the Ukraine. After hearing of a cousin’s death, Yakov learned that his deceased cousin had a daughter, named Nina, who had married and left the Ukraine for Azerbaijan.

Earlier this year, Maknovskiy came to the Red Cross with only the names and the general occupations of Nina and her two sons asking for us to help reconnect them. From there we contacted our colleagues at the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society, who managed to track down Nina. Maknovskiy and his son, Leonid, were informed of the good news just a month after he originally contacted the Red Cross. After finding one another, Maknovskiy and his niece Nina have continued communicating via mail, email, phone, and even Skype.

Reconnecting Maknovskiy with his family perfectly exemplifies the American Red Cross’ mission to alleviate human suffering by utilizing the valuable work of our volunteers, the generous donations of our supporters, and our international partners. If you or someone you know is seeking to locate a family member abroad, learn how you can begin the search today by visiting