When Mbiriyashe left his native Zimbabwe to visit his sick sister in Birmingham nine years ago, things quickly went wrong.
As a government employee, he feared for his safety upon returning. As he put it: “The ruling party is against the UK so has a vendetta against anyone who comes here.”
Eventually, Mbiriyashe made the agonising decision to stay in the UK, leaving behind his wife and children.
He was finally granted refugee status in 2011, but missed his family terribly – until the Red Cross stepped in with its travel assistance scheme, which reunites displaced families.
After nine years apart, the family were finally reunited at Heathrow Airport.
He said: “I left my youngest son when he was two-years-old, so he had changed so much. All this time, the only contact I’d had with them had been letters and phone calls every two months.
The happy bunch are now settled in Birmingham, where Mbiriyashe works as an escort and driver for blind people. His wife Grace works as a care assistant in a nursing home, and Victoria (16) and Nicholas (10) are both attending school.
Mbiriyashe said: “I’m so grateful for everything the Red Cross has done that I’ve decided to return the favour by donating money every month.”
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