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Red Cross Helps Ukrainian Citizen Reunite with his Family

I will always remember this day as one of the happiest days in my family’s life

After 10 years of not seeing his parents and 16 of not seeing his two children, Nicholas Greben will finally be able to reunite with his family on July 10, thanks to help from the American Red Cross.

Greben, a 47-year-old Ukrainian citizen who lives in Miami, Fla., found himself unable to visit his children and elderly parents in Canada after his U.S. employment visa expired.

He sought to obtain a renewal of his Ukrainian passport so he could travel back to Canada, but was unable to do so. Being stateless with no family in the United States was a shock for Greben, who felt as if he were stuck in limbo.

After doing some research online, Greben decided to contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the American Red Cross (ARC) to request emergency help for his case through the Restoring Family Links program.

Photo Caption: Maria Lacayo hands ICRC travel document to Nicholas Greben

Maria Lacayo, a caseworker for the ARC International Services, based in Miami, was assigned to Greben’s case. With no valid passport, Greben’s only way of getting back to Canada was to obtain a Travel Document from the ICRC, which is valid for a one-time visit related to a specific purpose, only in the country for which it is issued. The Travel Document must be returned to the ICRC after its one-time use.

Emails, phone calls and letters were relayed between Miami, ARC National Headquarters, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and the ICRC on a daily basis.

“Nicholas was very anxious,” said Lacayo. “He used to call me, text and email me every day.”

After an intensive three months of back and forth communications, Greben finally received an email from Lacayo stating that the ICRC was issuing him a Travel Document with which he could now travel safely Canada to see his family.

“I will always remember this day as one of the happiest days in my family’s life and that’s because of you,” Greben replied to Lacayo after receiving the good news.

On June 4, Lacayo handed Greben his ICRC travel document at the Red Cross office in Miami.

“I will never forget it; it was the most important day in my life,” said Greben.

From a worried man who had lost almost all hope of seeing his family again, Greben is now happy and eager to finally reunite with his family.