Persistence and patience bring tears and new beginnings

Guest post by Lise Anne Pierce, Manager for Catastrophic Readiness for the Canadian Red Cross in Victoria, BC. She was recently in Germany to support the German Red Cross response to the refugee crisis. 
Aziq, his wife, his two school-aged children and his 6-month old baby travelled overland from Syria to Germany in search of protection and safety.  They were among the first-recorded refugees to arrive in what the German Red Cross has established as a “buffer camp”, where refugees register and apply for asylum if intending to stay in Germany. After they have taken these steps, they may make their own way elsewhere in Germany, or go on to one of 300 smaller camps throughout the country. This buffer camp, called Feldkirchen, can accommodate up to 5,000 refugees in tents, although, as there is a high turnover rate with people, at the moment it averages about 1000 residents per day.

I was on a short-term assignment with a small contingent of Canadians on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross to assist the German Red Cross with the humanitarian crisis. I was based at this camp and came to know Aziq, as he spoke English well and began helping to translate for other refugees. Normally cheerful and outgoing, one day, I noticed that Aziq seemed agitated and not his usual self.
It seemed someone at the camp had told Aziq that people could not leave the camps, which was untrue. Meanwhile, Aziq's brother, who had immigrated to Frankfurt, Germany some 11 years ago, was hoping to find his brother amongst the thousands of refugees arriving in Germany each day. While en route to Germany, Aziq had sent a WhatsApp message to his brother, saying he was headed to this particular facility.
When he received this message, Aziq's brother drove from Frankfurt to Feldkirchen, and waited at the distant fence - with the hopes of getting a glimpse of the brother he had not seen in more than a decade.
When our team heard the story, we offered to drive Aziq and his family up the road to the camp’s main entrance, some two kilometres away, in case Aziq's brother was still waiting there. 
As we approached the entrance Aziq started calling out "It's him! It's him!" A red car that I’d vaguely noticed parked at the entrance turned out to belong to Aziq’s brother, and he had waited there for two days. There were lots of tears all round - tears of happiness and relief- shed by Aziq, his family, his brother – and I of course I cried too.  Even the security guard at the entrance gate, who had emigrated from Serbia in earlier years, cried tears of empathy.
While the brothers animatedly spent time at the entrance catching up, I quietly returned to work expecting that Aziq and his family would depart and this would be my last interaction with him.
But a few hours later, I heard Aziq’s voice behind me. He told me he couldn’t leave without finding me to thank me “from his heart”. I was so touched! He told me he had registered with the German Government to begin his asylum process, and that he and his family were leaving to move to Frankfurt to be with his brother and start a new life.
In my two-week assignment there were many tasks to do, the days never seemed long enough, and there were both frustrations and triumphs – but this one moment in particular stands out for me and I will never forget it.

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