In the News / December 2017

A Story of Reunification in Albany

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Justin and Caleb met when Caleb was just 10 years old and Justin was in his mid-20’s; Justin found him crying in the refugee camp where they both lived, with no one to take care of him. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of Caleb’s parents is unknown and he had no other known relatives making him all alone in the camp. Caleb and his half-brother fled the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009. His half-brother disappeared from the camp in 2013 and Caleb has not seen him since. Justin, whose parents had passed away, has taken care of him like a son ever since. Justin later married his wife Esperance and had two daughters in Kenya, all the while caring for Caleb just the same. They are a family.

Caleb was sixteen when Justin, his wife and two young children were resettled as refugees in the US, approximately one and half years ago. They were told Caleb would follow them but they did not anticipate the separation would be more than a month, but it has taken much longer. Now Caleb has finished high school and is anxious to join his family in the US.

Caleb was scheduled to travel to the U.S. on July 19. In anticipation of his arrival, Justin and Esperance moved to a bigger apartment so Caleb would have his own bedroom. However, Justin was heartbroken when Caleb’s flight was cancelled on July 11.

What would happen if Caleb could not join them? Justin said, “He’s in Nairobi, finished high school in June; he cannot work in Nairobi because he has no work permit… Nairobi is dangerous; now he reads and plays soccer. We are Caleb’s only family. If he can’t come, it will break his heart.”

The concern was that Justin and Caleb might not fit the bona fide relationship standard, even though they forged their father and son relationship under the direst of circumstances.

Things were looking bad for Caleb, until finally, after years of trying, Caleb was able to reunite with his family in Albany. He has started high school and is beside himself with joy.

His now sister, Peace, says of her brother, “He’s so special! He told me a lot of things to learn. He used to help people, helped my mom clean the house, played together with my sister and me.”

It’s clear to see that the family couldn’t be happier.

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