Inspiring hope for families

Ridwan Jamal grew up in the Oromia region of Ethiopia with his parents, a brother and his sister. Their idyllic family life was forever changed when political unrest struck the region. Ridwan’s sister, Samira, was fearful of being married off so she ran away. In the resulting turmoil, the remainder of Ridwan’s family was imprisoned for a time. The family didn’t hear from Samira again, and after an exhaustive search, they believed she was dead.

After four years, Ridwan left Ethiopia for Cairo where he worked with the local Oromo community office before moving to Canada and settling in Saskatchewan.

Samira, however, was very much alive. She travelled throughout the region, finding work where she could, eventually ending up in Cairo not knowing her brother had been there years before. There, a member of the Oromo community recognized a family resemblance and encouraged her to get in touch with the Red Cross in hopes of reconnecting with her brother.

After his sister Samira was in touch with the Red Cross, the search began to locate Ridwan in Canada through a variety of networks. Through the Red Cross Restoring Family Links program, Ridwan received a call that changed his life. When a Red Cross Case Worker finally tracked him down in Saskatchewan, Ridwan was told to contact the Red Cross right away.

The news he received was a shock; his sister was alive and hoping to speak with him. When Ridwan found out, he was overwhelmed with emotion, and the two had a lengthy conversation where they discussed their lives and the children they were both parents to now. Ridwan and Samira, who is now living in Cairo, are able to be in touch as often as they can. Their familial bond is strong in the face of distance and much adversity.

Ridwan is grateful to the Red Cross for giving him this piece of his life back, and says he feels like he was born again.