After a day fishing, six year old Riziki and his Father returned to their village in Somalia to find it had been attacked and that many people had been killed. Fearing for their safety, they ran.  Riziki’s Mother Ramha feared that her boy and husband were dead. Ramha fled, but she never gave up hope that her fears were wrong and her family might still be alive.

 

Sadly, Riziki was to experience more devastation, witnessing the killing of his father.  Riziki was only nine years old at the time. Alone and scared, the young boy ran.  He kept running for seven years, first to Uganda and then Kenya. Crossing borders alone before he had turned even ten years old.  Riziki lived on the streets, sleeping in bus stops and mosques. Relying on the good nature of local people for food.

 

Along the way, a family offered him shelter and safety for a short while. It was around this time that the Red Cross first tracked him down. In Ireland, where she had found safety, Ramha had asked the Irish Red Cross to help find her son and husband. Unfortunately, Riziki was so scared that he ran again fearing he would be sent back to the place where his Father had died.  Ramha and the Red Cross did not give up. Finally tracking down Riziki again, convincing him that he would be safe and that his mother was waiting for him in Ireland.

 

A few weeks before Christmas 2016, Riziki walked slowly through the doors of Dublin airport’s arrivals hall. Unsure what to expect, exhausted from his long journey and the difficult years behind him. A small woman ran from the waiting crowd and threw her arms around him. Riziki wept in his Mother’s arms.  Relieved, Ramha let out a haunting cry full of grief for the years they had lost. When she last held her son, he was six. Now, he towered over her as a teenager. She held on, not wanting to let go again.

 

 

Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links

They were reunited through Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links programme and the Family Reunification Travel Assistance Programme (UNHCR, IOM and Irish Red Cross). 
 

The Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links service is a free service designed to enable members of dispersed and separated families to exchange news, to rediscover each other’s whereabouts and to be reunited.  For more information see, www.redcross.ie/reuniting-families.