Long days and rewarding work bring families back together in Slovenia

Published: 11 November 2015 10:31 CET

By John Engedal Nissen, IFRC

Round, black glasses, a smile and a chunky brown beard. This is one of the faces that greet many people in a small green tent in an area where thousands of migrants wait to cross the Austrian border just 1km away. Every day, Dominik Raduha, 26, and other volunteers with the Slovenian Red Cross, help people reconnect with their families who they may have lost track with while moving through the Balkans.

“They feel hopeless when they come, so first of all we try to assure them that there is still hope and explain how we  can help them find their family again,” he says.

Wi-Fi and phone calls

The Red Cross team provides a Wi-Fi connection and has cell phones available to allow people to reconnect with their families.

“Many people become separated as they are brought here in different buses, so we are able to solve many of the situations within the camp. We help people to find their relatives, and when they are reunited, they often kiss and hug, because they thought they had lost each other for good,” Raduha says.

Red Cross volunteers also collect information from people to help reunite them with family members later. Recently the society’s tracing service, Restoring Family Links, reconnected a Syrian teenager and his family. While he was in Slovenia, the family continued their journey and reached Sweden. With the assistance of the Red Cross, the family will soon be reunited.

Reuniting a family with their infant

In another case an infant became separated from his family after being treated at the hospital in Serbia.

“For a few nights I had difficulties sleeping because of that, but we recently managed to bring the family together,” says Raduha. “So many of the volunteers had been involved in the case and  they came to witness the reunion.”

Before he started volunteering with Restoring Family Links, he was unsure whether he was cut out for a job working in times of crisis. He now volunteers almost every day, working up to 13 hours each day.

“The tracing service is my priority, but I help with what is needed, which might be taking people to the doctor, distributing food or clothing. I am very busy because there is always something to do. Even though my shift ends at 6pm, I often end up staying till 8 or 9pm,” he says. “It has truly been a positive experience. In a way it is very simple, because I just try to do my best to help.”