By Jennifer Wilson, Irish Red Cross Desk Officer – Restoring Family Links

Let me ask you a question, what would you do without your family? While we all appreciate personal time now and again, what would it be like if we were separated from our family and didn’t know if they were alive or dead? This is the reality for millions of migrants and their families all over the world.

As the Restoring Family Links Desk Officer for Irish Red Cross, I come in contact with many migrants who have found themselves in this situation. Whether they have been separated while fleeing war-torn countries or become separated on the migratory trail, all they want to know is “where are my family” and “are they alive”.

When we start the process of tracing a missing person I always try to imagine how I would feel in their situation. I am aware that I am managing their hopes, fears and expectations and that their happiness is riding on this one process. If I’m successful, all their dreams of reuniting with their loved ones will become a reality.

As they recount their stories – clearly emotional and full of guilt for having made it to safety themselves – it quickly becomes apparent how harrowing the journey to safety has been. They are lost, alone and it’s like a piece of them is missing. They trust that the Red Cross will be able to find their relative; that they can be reunited and know the joy of hugging their loved ones again. It’s a big ask, but one that the Red Cross are dedicated to and take very seriously.

Nothing is certain in life but when we are successful and witness a reunion it fills you full of emotion. It makes you proud to be part of an organisation with the capability to reunite families. One that values the family unit.

Today August 30, is International Day of the Disappeared. A day to acknowledge and highlight the pain and suffering caused to those waiting for news of those they are separated from. That’s why we have been asking you to participate in helping to restore a family link by raising awareness of this issue by changing your profile picture. We also ask that you share this with your network.

The plight of families enduring the emotional torture of not knowing the whereabouts or welfare of the people they love.