Reunited Members of a Congolese Family

May 1, 2013

From left to right: Red Cross Volunteer Germain O'Connell, Marie Ndusha, Sifa Ndusha
Credit Stu Johnson / Weku News

After 15 years of uncertainty, two Congolese sisters who live in central Kentucky have rediscovered their father.  The Bluegrass Red Cross Chapter played a role in reuniting the African family.  In 1998, a military conflict in Congo resulted in a family tragedy for Sifa and Marie Ndusha.  Masked Militia members invaded their home and killed their mother as the sisters and their siblings watched.

Her killing fractured the family…with the girls eventually relocating in Lexington.  More than a decade later, a Congolese woman told them their father survived and is a teacher in Goma.   So, last year, Red Cross volunteer Germaine O’Connell began the process of reconnecting the family.

“The national headquarters sends that information to the Red Cross recipient like me in the Congo and they start literally, on their feet, knocking on doors and trying to find out who was the last person that may have seen the family member,” said O Connell.

Letters from the sisters were sent to the father, Ndusha Nwesha   He replied.  Marie reads from a portion of his letter...

“I’m very happy to receive your message which showed me that you’re still alive.  This is almost fourteen years and me I’m your father and I feel like I have tears in my eyes and these tears and turned to joys,” said Marie Ndusha.

The two sisters were reunited in 2007 in a church in Uganda.  In addition to witnessing their mother’s murder, Sifa says she was repeatedly raped.  She also believes her husband was killed in the civil war.  Now, that she has talked to her father by phone, her emotions are almost overwhelming.

“I don’t know.  I don’t know what I can say.  Because when I hear the voice of my father when he called me…..I’m sorry,” added Sifa Ndusha.

The two sisters work with Kentucky Refugee Ministries and hope to bring their father to Kentucky.  Red Cross volunteer Germaine O’Connell encounters similar situations about a half-dozen times each year.  However, success in reconnecting refugees with their relatives occurs only about half the time.