Help Reunite the Dakonsa Family

Hello friends and family!
      As most of you know, Jon and I have hosted a family from Democratic Republic of the Congo for the past several months.  It all started about 18 months ago when I met Georges, who had only been in this country about six months. We were both doing volunteer work in Augusta for the wonderful and dynamic community action organization, the Maine People's Alliance. We had some time to talk about his situation and story. He was a human rights worker in his home country and worked for an NGO whose many projects were to legally bring justice to victims of violence perpetrated by their corrupt government.  After years of death threats, abuse,  imprisonments, and ultimately a home invasion when the entire family became splintered, George reluctantly fled to America without knowing his family's whereabouts.  His wife and, at the time, his 4-month-old son, managed to stay together but were in constant danger as they moved from place to place in the Congo and then in neighboring Rwanda. Lilliane is an attorney and also worked for this NGO, researching and  crafting reports.  His other two children, ages four and six were missing.  
     Needless to say,  the gravity and heartbreak of his situation brought me to my knees. We  became friends,  he came frequently to visit our home, and moved in with Jon and me  this past winter to help him get his feet under him and enable him to support his family more solidly from abroad.   After an arduous application, interview, and evaluation process, he was successfully granted asylum in February of this year.   (Most immigrants experience a much longer process that can take several years.)  His wife and now two-year-old son were given immediate (or so we thought) reciprocal asylee status and the work began to get them here to join him. They arrived the first of August, after a two-year separation, and they remain joyfully with us in our home as well.  There was not a lot of hope his other two children would ever be found, but just recently they were  located in a refugee camp in Rwanda, TOGETHER, now six and eight years old!  Through the  network of the Red Cross, the Congolese community, and some other connections, a family who had been in the same  camp and were newly relocated in New York, contacted George and told him they were there.  George visited the family in New York,  saw photos of his children, and after two years, actually spoke with them via mobile phone.  In a matter of two days, since he himself could not go back to Africa, George arranged for a friend of this family to go to Rwanda and escort his children via the Embassy to the United States. This may happen as soon as NEXT WEEK.   Needless to say, this is all a miracle, one of many in George's life after so much tragedy and heartache - a mere drop in the collective bucket of unspeakable human grief and suffering experienced by thousands of our US immigrants, as well as those abroad.                                  
     SO, what this all means is - we need to raise money for  airfare and hotel for the children and their adult escort.  We estimate  that it will cost about $5000.  George  is working several jobs and trying to save money to secure affordable housing for his family.  Any contribution at all that you can offer will be wholeheartedly accepted and hugely appreciated.  I know these funding campaigns are swirling around all over the place, and my hope is you are not super-saturated by them.  Thank you in advance  for your loving gift in helping to reunite Georges's family!!


Leanne Daniels Cooper
Gorham, ME

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