By The American Red Cross
“I haven’t laid my eyes on my mother in so long…” reflects Thiery Amani after the call.
It has been 9 years since Thiery Amani has last spoken to his mother. In 2009, the violence and impunity that erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo forced Amani to flee his home. A long trip, through Kenya and finally on to the United States was filled not only with his future shrouded in uncertainty, but the fate of his family, and notably his Mother was unknown.
However, half way across the world, Mukantagara Perasi was in Kenya, living in a refugee camp. When the Kenyan Red Cross visited her, she took a shot at reconnecting with her son in the United States. She gave the Society as much information as she could and waited. That request to trace her sons location raced halfway across the world to the New Hampshire and Vermont Region of the American Red Cross.
Caseworker Ina Warren and Service to the Armed Forces and International Services Program Director Adam Burritt received this request. It was bare, there wasn’t a lot to go on. “I didn’t have a lot of faith that we’d be able to find Mr. Amani” remarked Adam Burritt. However, his lead Caseworker Ina would not be deterred. She reached out to partners across New Hampshire inquiring if anyone knew or had helped a Thiery Amani. Finally, there was a needle amongst all the hay, the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Success in Manchester, NH had a lead! “He was so excited to have located her” Ina stated.
The rest of the story unfolded quickly, appointments were made for Amani to visit the Red Cross Regional Office, and preparations were made to reconnect with his mother. Suddenly it was apparent, the Red Cross can do more than send a message from one society to another across the globe. We can facilitate a phone call right here in the office between mother and son for the first time in about 9 years. With all technology in place and tested, Amani arrived without any prior knowledge that he would soon hear his mother’s voice. He settled into the office conference room and the number was dialed. Not knowing what to expect, all waited with baited breath as it rang. And in an instant there was a crackle, then a voice on the other end of the line. Amani began to speak to his mother for the first time in almost a decade. It was impossible to share everything that happened to him over the past 9 years, but all the key details were relayed.
ThIery Amani continues to live in Concord, New Hampshire with his family and connects with his mother, Mukantagara Perasi every chance he gets.