By Amy Lythgoe from our partner, Together Now
“We met in a small village in the east of our country. We were both in school. She was wearing Muslim garb in blue. Her eyes were beautiful and my heart beat rose. Then I said to myself ‘that’s the one.’” – Ahmed, a Sudanese refugee, about his childhood sweetheart, Halima
For the Sudanese families with whom we work, none had ever thought they would be forced to spend months or years apart. They studied; worked in banks, shops, and administration roles; and were planning to develop their careers, set up households, and start families.
Abdul met Katya while on holiday in Russia. They stayed in touch and married two years later. Katya was a law graduate and worked in finance before she had their son. She then gave up working to care for him full time.
Abraham and his wife, Senait, met, married, and settled in Sudan and were excited to be expecting their first baby. “I am very happy. Marriage and children are a blessing, a gift from God. No one can give this kind of gift,” Abraham shares with us.
Kidist worked in an office and was the main caretaker for her nephew. But in one shocking moment, her world changed: “The government police came to our prayer time, and we went to prison. After that, in 2006, I was made to do military training. Then, I had to work in administration as an office secretary for four years without pay. I couldn’t leave my faith.”
They were scared for their safety, pursued by security forces, persecuted for their religious beliefs, and ultimately forced to leave their lives to seek sanctuary.
Having navigated the UK asylum process, a system that sees people waiting years to be granted the right to stay, these individuals then have to apply for visas for their dependent family to enter the UK to be with them. This requires producing documentation of their lives together and proving they have an ongoing relationship. A key part of Together Now’s work is helping clients fund this process: the cost of a passport, having their only copy of a marriage certificate sent via secure post, traveling to appointments hundreds of miles from home, etc.
The couples who met and fell in love have now had to cope with bureaucratic administration processes, and their expectations of those in power, or who can offer help, are low. But when they are connected with Together Now, they regained some semblance of hope. However, there is just the ‘last’ hurdle to being reunited: the flight itself.
For the individuals we have mentioned, their hurdle is especially large, as the flight routes their families require are particularly difficult. But thanks to Miles4Migrants’ booking team and donors, they are all now rebuilding their lives in safety in the UK.
“It was a dream come true seeing each other at the airport,” Ahmed reflects. “When we got home, [Halima] said ‘Ahmed pinch me, I want to know if I’m dreaming.’”
Together Now accepts applications from those who are in the most need: children separated from parents, those at risk, or those with larger families who would never be able to afford airfare for so many people.
While our clients are filling in forms and anxiously waiting for decisions, we are doing our best to be ready to help them when the time comes. To help out, we ask you to donate your unused miles, credit card points, or money to Miles4Migrants.
Abdul, now happily reunited with his family, hopes to someday pay forward the kindness he received: “I hope one day I will support this organisation because what they do is a really humanitarian job.”
To help reunite more Sudanese refugee families, we are currently seeking donations from the following miles and rewards programs:
- HSBC Reward Points
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Amex Membership Rewards
- Flying Blue Reward Miles
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Capital One Rewards
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Lufthansa Miles & More