This family has been separated for over six years. Thanks to the help of Steunpunt Asiel, Miles4Migrants, and your donated Air Canada Aeroplan points the family was reunited after a long treacherous journey.
Kesete gives the following account of the family’s story:
My name is Kesete. In 2015 I had to flee my country Eritrea, at that time, we already had 4 children and my wife was pregnant with my youngest son. When I crossed the border with Ethiopia, I got arrested. My son was born when I was in prison, so I never got to see him before I left. Three months after my arrival in Belgium I got refugee status. After that, my family had 12 months time to apply for their family reunion visa at the Belgian embassy in Ethiopia. They were still in Eritrea, and leaving the country is extremely dangerous. A colleague of mine was shot dead when he tried to cross the border.
The first attempt of my wife and children to flee Eritrea failed, they were arrested but released after a few days. Their second attempt also failed, they got arrested and my wife and 5 young children were put in prison for more than 6 months. While they were in prison, the 12 months deadline for them to apply for their visa passed. We tried to send their visa applications to the embassy by mail, but they didn't accept the applications. After 12 months, there are a lot of conditions for family reunion, for example having a permanent working contract, 12 months of payslips and 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, way too expensive and in extremely bad condition, but with 4 bedrooms. I started working cleaning houses and managed to get a contract. After being separated for 6 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 and with the little money I make, I have been supporting my family in Ethiopia, paying for the DNA tests needed for their visa, and paying rent for my house in Belgium. I am so grateful to the organisation Miles 4 Migrants for reuniting my family after 6 years. I saw my youngest son for the first time this week, and 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 and start our lives in Belgium. I will never forget your help.