After two painful years separated from her children, Sokonan Keita was ecstatic when the Red Cross helped with travel costs so she could be reunited with her son and daughter.
Back in 2009, mother-of-two Sokonan was forced to flee her home in Ivory Coast, after involvement with an opposition political party put her family in danger. When things took a dramatic turn for the worst, she took the first flight to London and sought asylum.
Sokonan was soon granted refugee status but, heartbreakingly, had been forced to leave behind her two children – Diabate and Kady. She missed them terribly over the next two years. And when they too were finally granted a visa to come to the UK, the family couldn’t afford the flights.
Reunited at last
But that’s where the Red Cross stepped in to help. The charity helps reunite families who have been separated around the world and, in some cases, can help pay travel costs for refugees who have been granted a visa to come to the UK.
And that’s how, after two long years, Sokonan found herself waiting at a UK airport for her children. When Diabate and Kady (now aged 11 and nine respectively) finally emerged through the airport arrivals doors, they seemed to her like giant versions of the children she had reluctantly left behind.
‘Kindness and charity’
After five minutes of hugs and kisses, Sokonan finally said: “Thank you so much, Red Cross, for bringing my children to me.”
She added: “This is a fresh start for our family and we are most grateful to the kindness and charity the Red Cross and the British people have shown us. We will grab this opportunity with both hands.”
How we help to reunite families