Happy reunion

Tom*  is a volunteer who befriended a lone man over a few years. His befriendee was granted refugee status and then applied for Family Reunion: “My befriendee phoned me very excitedly to say that finally his wife and two children have their visas to join him in the UK. He fled Darfur three years ago and hadn’t seen them since – in fact, for two years they had no contact and he didn’t know whether they were alive or dead. My wife and I drove him and his friend to Heathrow to meet them. The plane landed on time at 10pm, but we were still waiting in a rapidly emptying Arrivals area at 11pm. At last the aluminium doors open and there they were – she in a long black robe with red head-scarf with the children, in their best clothes, hesitant beside her. My befriendee does not move. His wife walks slowly, with great grace and dignity, to the end, and he is there facing her. It was like slow motion. They folded into a gentle embrace, almost as if they weren’t quite sure if the other was solid flesh and then simply stand and hold each other. She is wiping away tears as he stoops ever so gently to clasp his son and then his daughter. It is reverent – a truly holy moment. The evening was a time of great joy, for us as well as the family who now begin life together in a new country where they are safe at last.”

* name has been changed

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