Coming Soon: A Long-awaited Story of Family Reunification
Written by Melissa Dalton-Bradford
At this moment, I was recounting the story of a friend of mine, a Syrian refugee mother who has been separated from her husband and three teenaged sons for three years. Father and boys have been eking out a meager existence in Turkey, where they were stuck after fleeing from decimated Aleppo and then Europe slammed shut its borders.
Mother and youngest son had gone ahead, trudging up the Balkan route and into Germany. Here, the two lived in camps where our volunteers met and befriended them. In this speech I described her:
Fierce yet exhausted.
Resourceful yet at times desperate.
Tender yet aggravated.
Faithful. Faithful. Faithful.
I went to court with her last spring and sat as a character witness through a trial (appealing asylum) that did not seem to go well at all. The judge wanted to hear nothing of her explanation that, if her asylum was not granted now, then her eldest, age 17, would stand no chance of receiving family reunification because at 18 the applicants are considered adults and must therefore pursue a single asylum track, not family reunification as dependents of parents.
The next week, my friend received a rejection to that plea. It was a black, black day. When I stood and spoke last month at Brigham Young University I asked the audience to imagine this mother’s predicament. To try to feel how she does, trapped by international disputes, the scourge of fear, the whim of policy.
Would this mother EVER see her husband again? Her children again? Would this family EVER be reunited? That sinister question mark hooked me like a harpoon to the heart.
I couldn’t have imagined how that story would change. Last night’s WhatsApp from my Syrian friend was simple:
Four photos of passports.
I knew all of the faces. They have her sober, dark eyes. And the mother’s caption: “God is good.”
Multiple ❣️❤️💕💗later, I asked, “Wann?” (When?)
“21 November,” plus 🎊🎉💥
Please stay tuned for a sweet family reunion at Frankfurt airport.
Over the last year we have developed close relationships built on mutual trust with many of the families we help. We know their names, their personal stories, and individual needs. We are fully aware that our donations are only a temporary band aid for a larger problem. A bag of groceries only goes so far, and they will be back the following Saturday for more. Sometimes, though, we can make a bigger impact in someone’s life.
Selfies with friends. Shurooq and Sasha enjoy shopping together.
Suzanne Kaufman’s colorful illustrations are a delightful pair to Alaxandra Penfold’s narrative stating “all are welcome here,” no matter one's appearance or background.