A house full of sadness – one mother’s seven years in limbo

Ece Ceren Doğ
Ece Ceren Doğ

It was while fleeing from Turkey to Greece that Arezou was separated from her son. She spent years not knowing how and where he was.

For 25-year-old Arezou* the last seven years have passed painfully slowly.
The young mother was forced to marry when she was 12 years old. After the death of her husband she left Iran with her son Najeeb*, then five, to escape her violent parents-in-law.
It was while trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece that Arezou was separated from Najeeb.  She decided there and then, that she was going to do whatever it took to get her son back.

Long process of family reunification 

After walking for three months, day and night, together with 35 other people who were also seeking to rebuild their lives in a place of safety, Arezou made it to Finland, a country 3,000 kilometres away. 
From Finland, she started searching for her son again.
First, I went to the authorities who referred me to the Finnish Red Cross. The Red Cross contacted the Turkish Red Crescent and they both started to manage the process for family reunification, while I continued to wait with hope. 
Now, here I am in Istanbul seven years later to pick up my son.

Patience was a virtue

Arezou’s seven years in limbo in Finland were marred by sadness and an inability to sleep. 
My dream was to have a happy life with a house that I will live in with my child. In Finland, I had a house but it was empty and full of sadness. 
Now I have both a house and my son. For the first time in years, I can sleep. If I had not been patient and had given up, I would have lost everything but now I am the happiest woman in the world!  Now I can lead a real life like other people.

Sharing happiness and sadness

She says the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has given her a new life. 
It was distressing not to know how my son was. Years have passed with doubts in my mind. However, now we are together, we will live both happiness and sadness together, face challenges together.
I would like to thank both Finnish Red Cross and Turkish Red Crescent. Their staff accompanied us and provided all the services like accommodation and transportation making sure we were comfortable during our stay in Istanbul. 
We also ate dinner with the foster parents of my son Najeeb. They are happy, but also feel sad that he is leaving.
Arezou returned to Finland with Najeeb on her birthday and says this happy outcome is the best gift she could have received.
*Names have been changed at the request of the interviewees.