We come across many heart wrenching stories through the work we do here at Human Appeal International (HAI). However, there are some fabulously heart warming stories too which sometimes get left untold. The following is such a story and it is about one of our volunteers who helped to reunite a mother and daughter after nine years of separation. What makes this story even more amazing is that the daughter was in a Sudanese refugee camp and the mother was right here in the UK. Read on and make sure you have tissues to hand!
Dr Tamer Alaredy, a dentist from Blackpool and long-time HAI volunteer, has made regular trips to the refugee camps in Sudan to provide essential dental, and more recently eye, treatment to the children, women and elderly living there. The project began in 2006 when the country was in the grip of a terrible civil war and has continued ever since. Dr Tamer’s volunteering work in Sudan is well known to his friends and colleagues but more recently his local press picked up on it.
In November last year Dr Tamer came across nine year old Sharon at one of the refugee camps in which he was volunteering. Sharon had been at the camp on her own from when she was a little baby as her mother had fled war torn Eritrea for safer shores. Al Qadarif is one of the largest refugee camps in Sudan and is situated on the eastern border with Eritrea. The camp is now home to Sharon and thousands more, many of whom ended up there having fled the Eritrean/Ethiopian war.
Dr Tamer discovered from aid workers at Al Qadarif that Sharon’s mother could be living in the UK. They told him that Sharon had some distant relatives living in Eritrea who might know of the mother’s whereabouts. Dr Tamer, dentist from Blackpool, volunteer for Human Appeal International decided now to take on a third role, i.e. that of detective. He managed to piece together some contact information for Sharon’s relatives in Eritrea. The contact information he obtained was in fact only a partial telephone number. He set about trying different variations of the phone number filling in the missing digits with different ones each time and dialling. During the process, many ‘wrong numbers’ were dialled, much frustration was felt and let’s not even talk about the rather large telephone bill!
Despite the odds, despite having only several digits of a phone number to go by, despite the huge amount of time and money spent on the investigation, Dr Tamer finally had a break through. Through sheer perseverance he managed to come up with the right combination of digits to dial the correct telephone number and eventually got through to Sharon’s relatives in Eritrea. He obtained from them a name and address, but no guarantee of it’s accuracy. Esther, Nottingham.
He was relieved to find that the contact details he had been given were accurate after all. Esther was indeed living in Nottingham.
A DNA test in October 2011 confirmed that Sharon was indeed Esther’s daughter and they were reunited soon after for the first time in nine years. Describing the reunion as ‘emotional’ and ‘intense’, Dr Tamer said that once he had heard Sharon’s story, it pulled at his heart strings and he couldn’t let it go.
Esther explained that at the time of her fleeing she had tried to get a visa for her daughter to come with her to the UK but she ran out of time and was thus forced to leave her new born baby with staff at the Eritrean hospital. Amidst the chaos of war, Sharon ended up in the refugee camp and Esther, without the resources to find her, was left with no knowledge of her whereabouts for the next nine years.
Now Esther hopes her daughter is allowed to remain with her permanently in the UK. She believes her plight will help and give hope to other parents who have also been separated from their children under similar circumstances.
Thanks to Dr Tamer’s determination and effort, a mother and daughter have finally been reunited after nine long years of heart aching separation.
We’ll conclude with a message from Dr Tamer, “I made some phone calls and connected up the dots, and it changed two people’s lives for the better. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that Sharon is back with her mum. Volunteering is amazing. Get involved. You too can make a difference in your own way no matter how small or large your effort”.