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Azerbaijan: “I felt as though my husband had come back”

After years of torment and anguish following her husband’s disappearance, the solidarity Shovkat found by attending an ICRC support programme has given her new hope.

When Shovkat’s husband went missing in March 1993, she was left behind with her three young children. Shovkat managed to take care of her family by herself.

However, her husband's disappearance, coupled with her son's sudden death and her own fragile health, brought Shovkat to the point where she felt that she just could not cope with life any more.

As she had registered the disappearance of her husband with the ICRC, Shovkat was invited to participate in “accompaniment”, a support programme for families of missing persons. When the accompanier Shahla first went to meet Shovkat, she was recovering from an accident and unable to move independently. Her daughter was taking care of her.

That first meeting was not easy, both for Shahla and Shovkat.

Shovkat was very emotional and frustrated. She had lost all hope.

Although very hesitant at first, after frequent home visits and phone calls from Shahla, Shovkat was finally able to share memories of her husband with someone outside of her family.  These visits and the fact that somebody showed a genuine interest in her life had become very important to her.

"I felt as though my husband had come back," says Shovkat to Shahla
© ICRC

During these home visits, Shahla would tell her about other wives and mothers of missing persons. Hearing stories of other women who were going through similar difficulties got Shovkat interested in the group meetings organized by the ICRC. Finally, she asked Shahla to organize one of the group sessions at her house.

“It meant a lot to me to see other families of missing persons in my house. I felt as if my husband had come back,” said Shovkat after the first meeting.

Although Shahla and the other families will never be able to undo the sad events that have deeply affected Shovkat's life, their support and kindness have helped her to cope better with her situation. Phone calls with Shahla have become an integral part of Shovkat’s daily life. Her health is improving and she now feels more hopeful about the future.

 “I realized that I am not alone and that there are people here who listen to me and care about me,” says Shovkat.

Even her family members recognize changes in her. “I see a smile on my mother’s face more often now,” her daughter says.


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