The summer of 2017 is the summer that Rani and her little family will probably never forget. Rani finally got in contact with her husband and Sindhu’s father and this after five years, where they did not know if he was still alive.
“Like many other young men in Northern Sri Lanka, my husband was a member of the separatist movement, The Tamil Tigers”, Rani said as I meet her in a language center in Funen, where she and her daughter have lived since 2014 after having been granted a residence permit in Denmark.
“The last time I saw him was in 2012. Sri Lanka's army had killed thousands of people around us. At one point my husband’s life was also in danger and he had to flee”, she explains.
The soldiers caught me…
Rani and her daughter had a few hard years in Sri Lanka after her husband’s escape. She no longer had her family to lean on because they had also been killed. The soldiers visited her several times.
“They found me and caught me. They were sure I knew where my husband was. They also hit me and I've been very scared”, Rani says.
She still fears to be recognized. Therefore, she does not participate in the article with her own name. She is also nervous while talking about the harassment she was exposed to and about the fleeing itself.
“The soldiers visited me several times, and finally I could not bear it anymore. I sold all my jewelry and got help to flee to Denmark”.
I sent my picture to the Red Cross …
Rani arrived with her daughter to Center Sandholm in Denmark in the winter 2014. They lived in an asylum center on the island of Langeland while the authorities treated her application for asylum.
"I would very much like to look for my husband, and fortunately the staff told me about the Red Cross' Searching Service. I got help sending a letter and a picture to the Red Cross.
At that point, I did not know if it could actually be done. But suddenly, one of the Red Cross employees called me and said there was a person that had recognized me."
“He was in India”, Rani says, still moved when telling me about what had happened.
Now we talk together every single day…
In the beginning Rani could not really believe that it could actually be her husband who had seen the image on the Red Cross Trace the Face website.
""When I heard his voice, I had no doubt at all. It was an absolutely indescribable moment!
He immediately asked how our daughter was. We cried and could not stop crying. There was so much to say. We should tell each other about all that had happened during the last five years. It was very, very overwhelming”, Rani says.
Since then many conversations have taken place. Rani's husband, Selva*, lives in India with a friend, and he is very keen to get to know his now nine-year-old daughter again.
"At first she could hardly remember her father, but now they are talking a lot. We have sent lots of pictures. Now she talks about her father. We have applied for family reunification. We can hardly wait to be a family again."
*Rani, Sindhu and Selva are not their real names.
Trace the Face: Online search
Trace the Face is a unique online tool for people who have lost contact with one or more family members.
On the Trace the Face website, those who are looking for family members can upload a picture of themselves via the Red Cross. The pictures are printed on posters and hung up at asylum centers, train stations, at border crossings, etc. in Europe. This way you can find family members either via the poster - or the website.
Since 2013, more than 3000 have been uploaded to the website. You can search for gender, age and country of origin. The only thing that will be published is the picture and family relationship of the person you are looking for. All other information, such as name and place of stay, remains confidential at the Red Cross.
See more at: www.tracetheface.org and on: Facebook’s page Tracetheface.org for migrants in Europe