Sisters Reunited After 74 Years of Separation

By The American Red Cross

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It was a typical quiet day in San Rafael, when Tamara Terichow received a phone call from the Red Cross that would change her life. They had found her long-lost sister, Lidia, who now lives in Finland with her family.

Tamara recalls the day the Germans came and invaded her childhood home in Leningrad back in 1941. Her father, Alexsander, was moved to a labor camp, forcing Tamara, Lidia, and their mother, Tatiana, to flee towards the town of Pskov. It wasn’t long before Tatiana fell very ill. “Starvation, sickness, I don’t know,” Tamara said. “All I know is she died. I was 5 years old and don’t remember. I do remember seeing her dead.”

Left alone, Tamara and Lidia, moved south to Lithuania, to an orphanage with no heat and no running water. “All we had to eat was dried peas,” Tamara said. “I remember looking for food in the dump.”

The sisters later moved farther south to a monastery, where they were reunited with their father, Alexsander, who had miraculously escaped the Germans. Shortly after, the sisters were separated when a married couple, Peter and Adele Filatov, adopted Tamara, leaving Lidia behind with their father in the old Soviet Union.

It has been 74 long years since Tamara and Lidia have last seen each other. With the help of Lidia’s granddaughter, Anna Haltsonen, and the work of Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links program, these sister were finally able to be reunited again.

For the full story, click here.

The One Gift Santa Can't Deliver

By ICRC and The American Red Cross

The only thing some children want this holiday season is to be reunited with their families.

For nearly 150 years The American Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have worked to bring families separated by conflict or natural disaster back together again.

As the world’s largest humanitarian network, we hope the public will share the video to raise awareness and support our work. Help us accomplish our mission to reconnect families and ensure that loved ones can be together during this special time, and all other days of the year, too.

We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, from our family to yours.

Red Cross's Dedication to Serving Migrants Around the World

By The American Red Cross

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Everyday, individuals around the world lose contact with their loved ones as a result of conflict, disaster, or migration. Along with reconnecting separated family members around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent Teams have helped migrants in a number of ways from providing aid through medical care and disaster relief to delivering messages of hope.

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As part of the global Red Cross Red Crescent network, the American Red Cross is guided by the seven fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. This means we provide services to people who need them in times of emergency—regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or citizenship status.

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People looking for loved ones separated by international conflict, disaster, or migration can call our helpline at 844-782-9441 or visit their local Red Cross chapter.

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.

Soaring International Capacity in Michigan

2015 Restoring Family Links Casework Training in Grand Rapids, Michigan

2015 Restoring Family Links Casework Training in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Story by Daniel Kim, International Services and SAF Associate, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Daniel Kim, RFL Instructor

Daniel Kim, RFL Instructor

On Tuesday, May 15, the American Red Cross Michigan Region heated up over aspirations of contributing to global justice and human dignity through the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program, a service of the Red Cross that helps reconnect families separated internationally by conflict, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies. More than 55 volunteers and staff came to Grand Rapids from every corner of Michigan to become a Restoring Family Links Caseworker. Mary VanderGoot, Restoring Family Links Mentor, and I were instructors for the training. The seven hour training included group projects, simulations, and role plays to help Red Crossers understand the importance of our reconnecting families services, and how to deliver this humanitarian assistance to their communities.

Mary VanderGoot, RFL Mentor

Mary VanderGoot, RFL Mentor

It was very exciting to meet the future RFL caseworkers who will end up providing this service across Michigan. The state resettles the fourth largest number of refugees in the US each year, a population often in need of reconnecting families services. While teaching, I dreamed of our region reconnecting all the families in need of our humanitarian assistance - ending the human suffering caused by not knowing the fate or whereabouts of loved ones. Throughout the training, I was excited to see the participants' passion and eagerness to help their communities.

Discuss session in the training 

Discuss session in the training 

By taking the Restoring Family Links Casework training, the participants will be able to identify new ways of supporting their local refugee communities. Conducting outreach will be crucial for them to build relationship with refugees and service provider agencies, and to grow and develop the Restoring Family Links program.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach the Restoring Family Links Casework Training and thankful to my co-instructor, Mary VanderGoot for her support and knowledge of this service. It was an amazing opportunity to reenergize my passion and love for International Services and the Restoring Family Links program. I look forward to all the amazing reconnecting families work the training participants will do back home. Go Restoring Family Links!