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Grand Canyon Chapter Connects Phoenix Kids with Mother in Africa

Red Cross volunteer meets with client
We try to reconnect families that have been separated by armed conflict or disaster. The children have more opportunities here. They have established a life. They will stay here and become citizens.

PHOENIX (May 17, 2013) – Two Arizona children know their mother is alive and well in the Republic of Burundi in Africa, thanks to the efforts of the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter.

Now living with a foster family and attending middle school in Phoenix, the children had been unsure about the fate of their mother since they were 7 and 5 years old. That’s when they received refugee status at a camp in Tanzania, where they had fled to escape a civil war that killed an estimated 300,000 people between 1993 and 2005. Recently, the children have been able to exchange messages and photographs with their mother, who is 32 and remarried with two more children.

“We try to reconnect families that have been separated by armed conflict or disaster,” said Vicente Baamonde, coordinator of the Grand Canyon Chapter’s Restoring Family Links service. “The children have more opportunities here. They have established a life. They will stay here and become citizens.”

Working on behalf of Catholic Charities Community Services, a Phoenix-based humanitarian agency that advocates for refugees, it took Baamonde and his staff of Red Cross volunteers about three months to gather information regarding the location of the mother. The information was sent to Red Cross headquarters in Washington, and it eventually reached the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva before going to the Burundi delegation. The Grand Canyon Chapter is working on four more reunification cases for Catholic Charities. To initiate a search, complete a form and talk to a caseworker at the Grand Canyon Chapter, at 6135 N. Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85015.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. It’s a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The Grand Canyon Chapter, established in 1916, re-chartered in 1999 and expanded in 2003, ranks as the fifth-largest chapter nationally, serving the more than 5.1 million people in Apache, Coconino, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties. For more information on the Grand Canyon Chapter, please visit www.redcross.org/gcc, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/redcrossgcc or follow us on Twitter under the handle @RedCrossGCC.