An Unexpected Reaction
When one man collapsed to his knees in an airport, the people surrounding him were shocked by the sudden outburst. What may have seemed like a public disturbance to the uneducated onlooker, was actually a reunion between a man and his family who never believed they would see each other again.
You won’t believe this story about how one family separated by war would beat the odds to finally come together again. We hope you have your tissues ready.
The Effects of War
The impact of war on a nation and its people is far-reaching. Families are displaced, homes are destroyed and many innocent lives are lost. Local monuments and hundreds of years worth of history can be eradicated overnight, sometimes by the country’s own military. Conflict can be cruel and we are currently living in times where violence is breaking out all over the world.
Families can be most impacted by war. Many times parents and children are separated as they flee their war-torn nation, never to be reunited again. Wives lose their husbands due to improper paperwork and relocation, leaving families broken and lives destroyed. War…it never changes and it’s always the innocent who pay the price.
The South Sudan Conflict
The conflict in South Sudan has been a particularly horrible time for the country. The country has been caught up in a civil war since 2013 between the government and civilian opposition. This has resulted in many civilians fleeing the country as refugees, hoping to be relocated to safer areas. Unfortunately, relocation and keeping families together is easier said than done.
Fleeing the Country
With the country in turmoil, Alik and Dyan chose to flee with their family from the country in order to escape the violence. Sadly, things would not go according to plan, resulting in Alik and her two sons to be separated from Dyan. To make matters worse, Alik was pregnant with their third child.
A Journey to a New World
For those fleeing Sudan, families were given top priority when it came to relocation to the United States. Sadly, Alik and Dyan’s marriage papers were destroyed when they fled their home during the outbreak of violence across South Sudan. Therefore, Dyan was classified as a “single male” and put at the back of the relocation list. However, with Alik being a mother with two children, she was immediately relocated to Fort Worth, Texas.
A Family Divided
Leaving her husband behind was one of the toughest decisions Alik had ever been faced with. However, she knew she had to do what was best for her children. There was no guarantee she would ever see Dyan again, but Alik chose to soldier on, facing an uncertain future.
The Help of Local Moms
Thankfully, Alik didn’t have to face her new life in a strange country alone. Local moms, Molly Jamison, and Marie Hall were part of a refugee resettlement program called Catholic Charities. Together, they helped Alik and her children settle into their new home and eventually they became good friends as well.
A Strong & Supportive Community
Thankfully, the entire church community was a huge support system for the newly relocated refugees. They provided food, housing and plenty of love and care. For being so unsettled, having a community to fall back on was comforting for Alik.
Refugees United Together
Alik soon joined a support group that united refugees from other African countries like Chad, Ethiopia, and Libera. Other women from Russia and Burma joined as well. These monthly meetings allowed the women to come together at their church and support one another during the tougher times. For Alik, it helped her realize she was not alone when it came to missing her husband.
Generosity and Kindness
As time went on, Hall and Jamison continued to visit the residential complex and built relationships with all of the refugees living there. Their selflessness and kindness meant so much to the children, who began to look up to them as part of the family.
Holidays, Cookouts & So Much More
Alik found her strength thanks to the support of the local church and the community that came with it. They held holiday parties, community potlucks and made sure the children were clothed and had presents for Christmas. As time went on, Alik began to enjoy life, but the absence of her husband still weighed heavily on her heart.
Stranded in A Refugee Camp
Meanwhile, Dyan found himself trapped in a refugee camp in Egypt and at the end of the resettlement list. With his marriage papers destroyed and his status officially labeled as a “single man,” there was no way for him to get back to his family in a timely manner. In fact, he wasn’t sure he would ever see his wife and sons again. The thought of living out the rest of his days without them was almost too much for Dyan to bear.
Desperate for His Family
Dyan would spend every day pleading his case at the embassy in Cairo, trying to explain he had been separated from his wife and children. Unfortunately, the answer was always the same, “single men are not eligible for relocation to the United States.” After four years as a refugee, Dyan was beginning to lose hope of ever getting to his family.
Missing Out on Growing Up
Even worse, Dyan hadn’t even met his youngest son, who Alik had been pregnant with when they separated. Knowing he was growing up without a father was devastating to Dyan and he prayed every day to God that a miracle would reunite them.
Will They Be Reunited?
Back in the United States, Alik, Hall, and Jamison tried everything they could think of to get Dyan to the United States. They met with social workers, immigration attorneys and even local politicians. Unfortunately, no one had hope that Dyan could make it to the country due to his classification. The only thing Alik could do was wait and see at this point.
A Miracle Happens
Then one night when Alik and her children were dressed and ready for church, Hall and Jamison arrived with amazing news. They weren’t going to church that night, they were heading to the airport. At first, Alik was confused, but after the family piled into the Catholic Charities’ van, the truth was revealed: Dyan was arriving on a flight that evening. After four long years, the family was finally going to be reunited!
Arriving at the Airport
To say Alik and her children were excited when they arrived at the airport would be an understatement. They quickly passed through the ticket area and into the baggage claim, looking for the perfect spot to greet Dyan when he arrived. The arrivals board revealed the flight was only 35 minutes away…now they simply had to wait.
Those final minutes felt like an eternity for Alik and her sons. Soon the plane landed, and fear soon began to take hold. Passengers began to flood into the baggage claim, but not Dyan. They knew he had a connecting flight in Houston. Could he have missed it?
Then…something amazing happened.
A Tap on the Glass
A sharp tap on the glass got Alik and her sons’ attention. It was Dyan, smiling from ear-to-ear. He was finally in the United States, and only a thin pane of glass separated him from the family he had waited so many years to see. It was a moment that he never imagined would come but was so thankful it had.
Running to Dad
The two older sons couldn’t wait any longer. They dodged passed security and into the wide-stretched arms of their father. The hugs and tears were filled with raw love and emotion. Dyan couldn’t believe how much his sons had grown during the time they were apart. However, there was one more person he was dying to meet.
Meeting His Third Son
Walking up to Dyan was his three-year-old son that he had yet to meet. The little boy grinned, running up to the father he had heard stories about but had never met. Dyan picked him up and hugged him close. It was a moment he would cherish forever.
Waiting Her Turn
From a distance, Alik watched her sons embrace their father as tears streamed down her face. Although she wanted to run to her husband, she knew how important it was for her children to have those first moments with him.
Wife and Husband Together Again
Finally, after what seemed like ages, Alik and Dyan made a slow walk to one another. Dyan wanted to run but allowed himself time to fully look upon the beautiful wife he had been so viciously separated from years prior. When they finally reached one another, he pulled her into his arms as family and friends tried to hold back tears. It was a beautiful moment, filled with love and joy.
Thanking the Volunteers
After what seemed like an eternity, Dyan broke the embrace with his wife and began to hug the volunteers who had been so good to his family while he was away. He thanked them for their love and generosity, it had taken a village to get him to his family and he was more than grateful.
A Crowd Gathers
During the reunion, a small crowd began to gather around the family. Some filmed it with their phones while others were overcome with emotion seeing Dyan’s raw reaction to reuniting with his family. At one point, Dyan fell to his knees and praised God for finally bringing him home to his family.
A Small Hiccup in the Process
However, there was a slight problem. It seemed only one of Dyan’s two bags had arrived at the airport. His remaining bag was in Houston, so they would have to wait for it to arrive. Thankfully, this was no big deal, they had waited years to reunite. Waiting for a bag? It was peanuts compared to what they had been through.
Filled with Emotion
As they walked to the van, Dyan continued to weep from the joy of being with his family. It didn’t seem real to him. Total strangers were also compelled to embrace Dyan. They were moved by his raw emotion and wanted to welcome him to the United States. It was truly a beautiful reunion.
From Anguish to Joy
Dyan had suffered through so much pain. His life in the refugee camp had been filled with strife and uncertainty. Now, that anguish had turned to pure joy. He couldn’t wait to return to the housing complex and take in his new home.
Going Home At Last
After three years apart and a cross-country journey, Alik and Dyan could finally return home together with their children. For Dyan, it was a happy ending to what had been an uncertain future. Now, he could watch his three sons grow up and together they could forge a new life away from the chaos and violence of South Sudan.