By Aleksandra Čelar Perović and Patience Folley | 3 December 2018
Podgorica, Montenegro, 30 November (UNHCR) – It has been five years since Khadijah* last saw her daughters. She arrived in Podgorica two years ago, after travelling a long way from Ghana-Egypt-Syria, in an attempt to reach safety before initiating reunification with her family.
With her husband living in Italy and visiting her occasionally, she had to do it all on her own.
After being granted international protection in Montenegro, Khadijah felt she could not cope with the split from her daughters any longer.
In the meantime, she gave birth to Sadiki, a boy who gave her strength to endure.
“My girls, aged 14 and 16, were first staying with my in-laws in Ghana. They are now living with my sister,” Khadijah’s voice trembled with emotion as she recounted her story few days before seeing the girls. “Five years apart – it is not easy. In the initial stages, I was destroyed, but giving birth to my baby boy gave me strength to endure the long wait for my daughters. I finally had someone to look after and talk to. I am thankful to God for Sadiki.”
Khadijah eagerly waiting for her daughters at Podgorica airport. © UNHCR/Dusko Miljanic
Khadijah still felt half of her was missing with her daughters apart, “I really miss them so much. I feel like I am half present here in Montenegro, half in Ghana. I am almost complete now, I will be when my daughters arrive.”
Accra, Ghana, 27 November (UNHCR) – Finally the opportunity is here for Nala and Abina to be joined with their mother after five years apart. The feeling is overwhelming and both girls are full of smiles when they interact with UNHCR Public Information Associate in Ghana, Ms Patience Folley.
14-year-old Nala is extremely happy to have the opportunity to be reunited with her mother. “I feel really good and I’m going to hug and kiss her when I meet her”. Aside furthering her education, Nala expects to make new friends and discover new places.
Abina, 16-year-old, says life has been difficult without their mother for so long. For her, she was 20% hopeful she will ever meet her mother again. But thanks to UNHCR, she is on her way to Montenegro and she is thrilled about it. “My expectation is for the people of Montenegro to accept me for who I am,” she said amidst broad smiles. The future is bright for Abina. She expects to enroll in a good school, get a job and be able to take care of her parents in the future. She is grateful to Allah for this opportunity, she added.
“I just can’t wait,” Abina said, her face lit up with glee, just before the departure to the Airport.
Warmth of a mother’s hug: Ghana teenagers reunited with their mother in Montenegro after five years of separation. © UNHCR/Dusko Miljanic
The joy cannot be put into words. The mother is hugging her daughters in tears. ”God bless Montenegro, God bless UNHCR, God bless you all for bringing my children!,” she said.
The girls are joyful, laughing and thrilled to finally feel the warmth of their mother’s hug and to hold their baby brother in their arms for the first time.
*Names changed for protection reasons