Yakov Makhnovskiy fled from the Nazi occupied when he was only three years old. The train on which Makhnovskiy’s family made their escape was under assault by German bombers, but fortunately they escaped. Members of his extended family were not so lucky, and were left behind in an environment of tenuous survival. In the confusion during World War II and the years following, Makhnovskiy lost touch with those family members remaining in the Ukraine. Later, upon hearing of a cousin’s death, Makhnovskiy learned that his deceased cousin had a daughter named Nina, who had married and left the Ukraine for Azerbaijan.
In May, Makhnovskiy contacted the American Red Cross, his son Leonid was there to aid in translation. He had recently learned of the Red Cross ability to trace family members “lost” in the Holocaust. With only the names and the general occupations of Nina and her two sons, the Red Cross contacted its sister organization, The Red Crescent Azerbaijan Society. Three weeks later, in an unusually speedy turnaround, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent managed to track down Nina and her sons. Makhnovskiy and his sonLeonid, were informed of the good news by mid-June. After finding one another, Makhnovskiy and his niece Nina have started to build a relationship communicating via mail, email, phone and even Skype.
While most often recognized for its blood drives, disaster responses, service to armed forces and health/safety training courses it is easy to forget the services the Red Cross provides internationally. As a part of the international Red Cross/Red Crescent community, local chapters play a key role in our Restoring Family Links program. During the chaos and confusion of war and disaster families often become separated and the Red Cross uses its international connections to help these families find each other and reconnect.
Reconnecting Makhnovskiy with his family perfectly exemplifies the Red Cross of Massachusetts mission to alleviate human suffering by utilizing the valuable work of volunteers, the generous donations of supporters and international partners. If you or someone you know is seeking to locate a family member abroad, contact Lynn Levine in Eastern Massachusetts at 617-274-5233, or in Central or Western Massachusetts send an email to MAINTL@redcross.org.