My parents are alive! And now I know where my dad isAfter 18 months alone on the run, the miracle has come true for Setarah from Afghanistan. Through Red Cross’ tracing service in Denmark she found her mother, and when she put up a photo on Red Cross’ Trace the Face website, she received another fantastic piece of news: Her father and younger brother are alive, and they are in Germany.
Setarah is struggling to fight back her tears as she tells the story of how her family got separated during an arduous flight from Afghanistan in the summer of 2015. Like so many other refugee families, they were sailing from Turkey to Greece in rubber dinghies. This would be the last time in a very long period that Setarah had contact with her family, which until their flight consisted of her father, mother, her older brother with his wife and three young children, her younger brother and herself.
- It was an absolutely dreadful, terrifying night, which has been a kind of nightmare for me ever since. We had to leave in the middle of the night, and there was a lot of tumult and confusion as we got in the boats. I suddenly discovered that the rest of my family had been placed in some of the other boats. I was just so incredibly frightened, Setarah recounts.
SCATTERED TO THE FOUR WINDS
During the trip across the Mediterranean Sea, she clung to the hope of being able to find her family again once they reached the shore. But it turned out that the refugees in the three boats were not sailing to the same destination.
- My father and younger brother were in one boat, my mum was in another, and I was in a third. In Greece, we all spent a long time trying to find each other, but without success. Luckily, I found a place where I could stay safe for a couple of months, after which I continued the journey on my own, Setarah recounts. She was constantly afraid that she might have lost her family for good.
- Well, I was afraid that they might have drowned. I frequently heard stories like that,you see. Back in Afghanistan, my older brother was kidnapped by the Taliban, and I have no idea what has happened to him, his wife or their three young children. I’m really worried about all of them. After the boat trip, I was constantly afraid that I might be the only one left, Setarah says.
FIRST MUM, THEN DAD AND YOUNGER BROTHER
After a difficult journey through Europe, Setarah arrived in Denmark in September 2016.
- I just moved on and had no real idea where I was. Luckily, someone from the Red Cross told me that you could search for your family, so I rushed to do that, the now 18-year-old Afghan girl recounts.
This turned out to be crucial. A few months after Setarah’s arrival in Denmark, the Red Cross Tracing Service was able to tell her that her mother was already in the country. Today, mother and daughter have been reunited and are living together in the Red Cross asylum centre in Jelling. And the age of miracles was not yet over.
- Here at the Red Cross asylum centre in Jelling, I was told that I could also search for family members in a different way, using an online search tool called ”Trace the Face”. One of the staff members helped me upload a photo to the site, Setarah explains.
DAD AND YOUNGER BROTHER IN GERMANY
At first, she was not at all sure that it was worth the effort uploading a photo among the nearly 4000 other refugees in Europe searching for family members – but then she received a phone call while she was at school.
- Someone from the Red Cross Tracing Service called me and said that they had had a reaction from a person in Germany who said he was my father. At first, I didn’t really believe it. But then I spoke with him on the phone, and it was like a gift from God. It was my dad’s kind voice, which I remember from when I was a little girl. It was absolutely fantastic. Now, I’m in frequent contact with both my dad and my younger brother who is with him in Germany.
- All I’m dreaming of now is that we can all be together again. I love my family, and I really hope that the authorities will soon let my mother and me go down to see my father and younger brother in Germany. I can hardly wait.