An Eritrean dad meets his 6-year-old son for the very first time after reuniting with his family in Belgium

“My name is Kesete. In 2015 I had to flee my country Eritrea. At that time, I had 4 children, & my wife was pregnant with my youngest son. When I crossed the border into Ethiopia, I got arrested. My son was born when I was in prison, so I never got to see him before I left.

3 months after my arrival in Belgium, I got refugee status. After that, my family had 12 months to apply for their family reunion visa at the Belgian embassy in Ethiopia. They were still in Eritrea, & leaving the country is extremely dangerous. A colleague of mine was shot dead when he tried to cross the border. The first 2 attempts of my family to flee Eritrea failed. On their 2nd attempt, they got arrested, & my wife & 5 young children were put in prison for over 6 months. While in prison, the deadline for them to apply for their visa passed. We tried to send their applications to the embassy by mail, but they didn’t accept them.

After 12 months, there are a lot of conditions for family reunification, such as having a permanent working contract, 12 months of pay slips, & a house that is big enough for your family.

Needless to say, this was extremely difficult because I was still learning Dutch. I managed to rent a house that was way too expensive & in extremely bad condition, but with 4 bedrooms. I started working cleaning houses & managed to get a contract. After being separated for 4 years, my family could finally apply for their visa. Because of COVID, the procedure took extremely long, but finally they received their visa in March 2021.

For me, it was impossible to buy plane tickets for my family. Because of COVID, my working hours were reduced & with the little money I make, I’ve been supporting my family in Ethiopia, paying for the DNA tests needed for their visa, & paying rent for my house in Belgium.

I am so grateful to Miles4Migrants for reuniting my family after 6 years. I saw my youngest son for the first time this week, & he is a big 6-year-old boy now. It hurt so much to be separated for so many years, but now we can finally be happy & start our lives in Belgium. I will never forget your help.”

150,000 donated Air Canada Aeroplan points made this family reunion possible!