Main Navigation


A man's "impossible dream" to find his mother



The last time Alinoti saw his mother's face he was aged just 14.

Alinoti, now 31 and living in Brisbane, says while so much about his life has dramatically improved since that dark day he fled from his village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he never stopped carrying the pain of not knowing whether his mother was alive or dead.

His father had already been killed in a violent conflict in his home country, which often sits on the world's most dangerous country lists. When there was fresh violence, the boy and his mother fled for their lives. His mother went one way, Alinoti went the other, and their lives would never be the same.

Fast forward to 2016. Alinoti has spent his teenage years in an abusive household before fleeing to Kenya and ultimately spending 10 years in refugee camps. Alinoti is granted a visa allowing him to settle in Australia. He says he has everything his heart could hope for except one thing.

"Even though I had a humanitarian visa I still had pain in my heart because I was not in touch with my mother," says Alinoti, who has moved to Australia with his wife and their three young children.

In Brisbane Alinoti hears of the work of Australian Red Cross and its international tracing service, which operates around the world to help people re-establish contact between separated family members and clarify the fate of the missing.

The details he was able to provide were scant.

"My mother lived in a mud brick and iron house close to a Catholic Church. Opposite the house there was a very large tree where local people gathered and sat underneath."

He added the location of the place where they were separated, and that he had heard she may also be living in the neighbouring country of Burundi.

He believed it would be impossible to find her and that the case would close after two years, unresolved. But just six months later came a message from his Australia Red Cross case worker. His mother had been found! Red Cross passed on a phone number and his mother's photo.

"I called the number and heard my mother's voice, which I was not expecting," he says. "I thought she had died and she also thought I had died. She answered the phone and I was very happy to hear her voice again.

"She didn't believe that I was her son. She kept asking, 'Who is this?' and I kept explaining many times - 'I'm your son, Alinoti.'

"Then she used a different name she called me when I was young then I said 'Yes I'm the one.' That's when she realised I'm her son. She was so excited because we were not in touch for 16 years. She was very happy to hear my voice again."

Alinoti explains that finding someone is difficult in the best of circumstances, as his village had no street names or numbers and with streets going in all directions. So he'd hardly dared to hope to find his mother again.

Then when he received the good news, just six months after making the request, he says it was like a dream come true.

"It is like when you get something you are not thinking about. It was like a dream come true. I was not imagining that one day I will ever find my mum again."

Now he hopes to one day be reunited in person.

"I hope to one day meet her. The hardest thing was to know where she was but that has passed and now no matter what it costs as long as she is alive and I am alive we can hope to find her."

"Thank you so much for the good job!"

You can bring more good to the world, by making a tax deductible donation before 30 June. Your donations could make it possible for Red Cross to track down long-lost loved ones separated by war, conflict, disaster or migration.