Father and Son Reunited
A father and his little boy, forced to live 4,000 miles apart for more than 4 years, have found happiness again in Scotland – with the help of the British Red Cross.
To highlight their story and to offer hope to others separated from loved ones, father Makoso Tshonde, 38, and his 11-year-old son Morena joined forces with Glasgow School of Art student Mikey Cook to create a stunning piece of “living art”
Using his artistic skills, Mikey, 22, painted over Makoso’s clothes to gradually blend him into the background he was standing in front of. The finished piece gives the impression of Makoso disappearing – or reappearing – while Morena stands beside him, reaching out to his father.
The piece was released to coincide with International Day of the Disappeared, a day when the International Community remembers individuals who have gone missing in armed conflicts or other situations of violence and whose fate is unresolved.
See the “living art” piece here.
Makoso and Morena’s Story
Makoso had to leave his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2007 after he became involved in politics, campaigning against the government of the day.
He was jailed for his activities but, after a month, with the help of friends, he escaped and fled to another African country. From there, his friends helped him fly to London and he was eventually sent to Glasgow.
Morena, then just six years old, was left behind in Congo with his stepmother and stepsisters but they too had to leave their home.
Makoso said: “It was a very bad time for me. I had to leave my son behind and didn’t know if I would ever see him again.
“I arrived in a strange country where I knew no-one and I didn’t know who I could trust. I had no money or friends. I had never heard of Glasgow and didn’t know where it was.”
Makoso contacted the Red Cross International Tracing and Message Service (ITMS) in the city’s Sauchiehall Street and they were able to help him reach contacts in his homeland who managed to find Morena.
After more than four years, and with the support of the Red Cross, Morena was finally given leave to come to Scotland to be reunited with his father.
Now he speaks fluent English – with a Scots accent – attends primary school and loves football.
Makoso added: “It is important never to give up hope. It is important that others facing the same situation I was in realise that there are people like the Red Cross who can help, no matter how bad things might seem. Life is still not easy, but at least I have my son back and together we can build a new future for ourselves in a country where we are safe and which believes in human rights.”
While Makoso - who used to run his own computer business - looks for a job, he is helping others as a Red Cross volunteer interpreter.
Frank Higgins, Red Cross ITMS manager in Scotland, said: “Many people who have to leave their home countries become separated from their families.
“The most important thing the Red Cross can give them is hope. As part of the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, we have a global network of contacts which we use to find people and, hopefully, reunite them.”
Maverick Photo Agency
The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. They offer a variety of services both at home and overseas. For more information visit The British Red Cross website.
Last year in Scotland, the Red Cross:
- Helped 571 people through refugee services
- Responded to 444 emergencies including those caused by flooding and extreme winter weather.
- Trained 33,167 people in life saving first aid skills
- Enabled 32,850 people to live more independently through health and social care services
- Worked with teachers to reach 22,863 young people with humanitarian education
What do you think of this story? Do you like the “living art” piece? Let us know by leaving a comment below.