Hope After 20 years of Separation

By The American Red Cross

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It had been 20 years since Fidele* last spoke to his father. He lost contact with him as a teenager after he fled war in his home country of Burundi. Unsure of his father’s fate in the war, Fidele reached out to the Red Cross chapter in southern Arizona in hopes that someone could help him find his father. Using the information provided by Fidele, Elissa Maish, a dedicated Red Crosser, worked diligently with the RFL team and global Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to help find his father. 

“Having listened to all the wars he had been through, I held out little hope that we would actually be able to find his father,” Maish remembered. “Amazingly, six months later, I received a phone call and I heard a gentleman on the other end of the line saying, 'Fidele, my son, my son!'" 

Eight years has passed since Fidele was able to hear his father’s voice for the first time. For Fidele, being able to call and speak to his father brought happiness and gave him the closure he desperately needed.

Since 2010, Maish and Fidele have teamed together to achieve the Red Cross’s Restoring Family Links (RFL) mission: helping families trace and reconnect with loved ones separated by international conflict, disaster or migration. 

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*Name has been changed to protect privacy.