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Colombia: when I found out that my father was alive, I was overjoyed

18-04-2012 Feature

Extract from Colombia report 2011.

Angie had to wait 19 years to find out that her father was alive. Her mother hadn’t forgotten him, even though 13 years had passed since they told her he was dead.

Resigning herself to widowhood, Mayerlín, who often felt rejected because of doubts over her partner’s disappearance, always talked to her daughter about her father. He had had to flee because of threats made against him when she was three months pregnant. “I was never able to see him again because I was being followed in the hope that I would lead them to him. They wanted to kill him.” That was when she lost touch with him.

“One day in December I got a phone call from a woman saying that someone was looking for me. I asked who it was and she said my father’s name. I was overjoyed! She asked me how long it had been since I had last seen him, and I replied that I had never met him,” recounts Angie, recalling the moment when the ICRC delegate contacted her with the news. “She said that she could deliver a letter to him so I wrote one straight away. Then she said that she would look into arranging for me to visit him.”

ICRC delegates had come across Angie’s father during one of their regular visits to a prison in Santander. He had known that his partner was pregnant when he fled. When he found out
about the ICRC’s programme to restore family links, he decided to tell them his story in the hope that one day he would be reunited with his partner and daughter.

For nine months, ICRC delegates scoured the country from one end to the other, until at last they found Mayerlín and her daughter Angie in a town in the country’s main coffee-growing region. “I’m very grateful. I longed to see him again. He was everything to me. It’s as though nothing ever happened. I want my daughter to get to know him,” says Mayerlín, who is looking forward to being reunited with her companion after 19 years apart.

 


Photos

 

© ICRC / C. von Toggenburg