The American Red Cross of Alaska recently helped reconnect local Anchorage resident Tor Gach with his brother, who lives in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, through the home delivery of a Red Cross Message.
Originally from Sudan, Tor Gach lost contact with his brother more than a year ago, having received no replies to the multiple letters he sent. Solace finally came in an unexpected form when a Red Cross vehicle drove up to his home.
"Most of my family lives in areas of armed conflict, and I was fearful that the Red Cross were bringing me bad news about my familyâ€ . . .
The message was delivered by Zoe Craig, an AmeriCorps team member serving with the Red Cross.
â€œIt was incredible to deliver this message which came from so far away,â€ said Craig. â€œTor was so excited to receive this news from his brother. Here in the U.S., we take for granted how easy it is to communicate. We have telephones, e-mail and cell phones when we want to reach out to our loved ones. This isnâ€™t the case in so many other parts of the world.â€
Upon receiving the Red Cross Message from his brother, that he and his family were safe, Gach wrote a reply, which will be sent through Red Cross channels to his brother in the Dima Refugee Camp in Ethiopia.
Not many people know about the tracing services offered by the Red Cross. The goal is to reconnect immediate family members with citizens and residents of other countries when war, civil unrest, or natural disaster has caused them to lose contact.
During the last two years, the American Red Cross relayed nearly 4,000 messages to and from detainees, POWs, refugees, displaced people and their relatives.
"The messages number only in the thousands each year but the value of those messages is immeasurable,â€ said Carol L. Miller, an American Red Cross spokesperson. â€œThe Red Cross is bringing hope and peace of mind to families desperate for information about their loved ones.â€
Now Gach finds comfort in the fact that he’s offered an effective means of communication to reach his family members.
â€œI had written my brother several times over the past year, but I never heard anything back,â€ said Gach. â€œI wasnâ€™t sure if my brother was even receiving my messages, but I had no way to find out. This way I know that he will get my message.â€
People who have questions or would like to learn more about this or other Red Cross services should contact their local American Red Cross chapter.
Kelly Hurd is the Community Relations Manager for the American Red Cross of Alaska chapter in Anchorage.