Recovery of Hope – Indian Red Cross Bridges Distance

Recovery of Hope – Indian Red Cross Bridges Distance

Nithya with her family after being reunified with the help of the FNS-IRCS, Tamil Nadu

After a hard day’s work, when everybody got into bed for a peaceful sleep Nithya Sadasivam kept awake worrying about the fate of her lost family. She had no contact, no information and no clue on the fate of her husband and daughter since they were separated during the civil strife in Sri Lanka in 2006. Left with just her two other children, it was difficult for her to spend her life without knowing about the rest of her family.

All Nithya now had was a fading recollection of memories – of meals eaten together and the colour of the dress her daughter wore when she last saw her. In June 2011, Nithya registered a tracing request for Mr Suresh Sadasivam and Ms Lavani Sadasivam at the Indian Red Cross Society’s (IRCS), Tamil Nadu State Branch. Additional information which could help to trace them was collected by the branch staff. Nithya informed the IRCS team that there was a possibility that her missing husband and daughter may have moved to the Netherlands.

Residing in a refugee camp in Chennai with her other two children the search for her husband and daughter was a lonely and painful battle for Nithya. The only time loneliness made space for any other emotion in her sunken eyes, was the time when she tried to draw a picture of her grown up daughter in her mind. For a woman whose mind has been seared with troubling thoughts, the Red Cross seemed like a new friend. Finally the Red Cross team in July 2011 was able to trace someone called “Suresh Mathu”, who resembled the missing person’s photo.

Without any further delay the team contacted him through an email, also giving him details about the whereabouts of his wife.  This information was also provided to Nithya in Chennai. The search had ended; the endless wait was over and the missing person was found. On the same day at 10.33 am through the Red Cross phone the team along with Nithya called her husband in the Netherlands. The call was answered by their daughter who was eleven years old by then.

Nithya was talking to her daughter after  six long years. In a conversation punctuated
with tears of joy and affection, a waiting mother had a lot to say to her lost child even as word refused to come forth. Later, Suresh Sadasivam was again contacted in the Netherlands through the Red Cross phone. Family links were re–established. Both were overwhelmed with emotions on being reunited by the Indian Red Cross after six long years of separation.

Courtesy: FNS-IRCS, Tamil Nadu

  1. Such important work that you do. I am thankful we have ICRC in conflict situations.

    • Thanks Kiran! The contributions of the researcher community are important too. Looking forward to interacting with you.

  2. Thanks for initiating this blog. Very boldly conceived and very nicely executed. Congrats.
    I have just started seeing various posts and the first impression is that it is hard to read in such small font.
    Secondly, about above article; are there refugee camps still in place in India for refugees from Sri Lanka?

    • Thanks for the encouragement. We have noted your suggestion regarding the font.
      The Indian authorities are still bringing assistance to refugees from Sri Lanka, mainly in camps in the state of Tamil Nadu. The ICRC is not involved in issues of refugees in India, but in supporting the Indian Red Cross Society, which carries out tracing activities for refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.