The story of Laura Speranza is that of someone who had to go through hell before coming into the light. It is a story of pain but also hope ('speranza') as her name indicates. Laura was born in Italy after a landing a year ago in Crotone which her mother, Neima - a very young Somali woman with clear signs of torture on her body - did not survive.
For just over a year, Laura has been living with a family of Italian red Cross volunteers, Domenica and Sergio Monteleone, and in recent days she has finally been able to see some members of her family: her grandmother and sister, who were traced through the Red Cross's Restoring Family Links service.
A family rebuilt
The Red Cross said that since the very first days of Laura's life they had activated a service through which, after a lengthy and complicated work at the international level, her grandmother Halima and sister Sabrine were found. The two had fled from Somalia to Kenya some years ago due to ongoing conflict in their home nation. Over the next few weeks the three will continue their journey to Sweden, where an aunt - informed of the story by the Red Cross - has offered hospitality and support.
The story of Laura, Halima and her sister Sabrine is only one of many of those that the Italian Red Cross is dealing with on a daily basis. The organization said that thousands of families are separated every year due to conflicts, disasters and migrations, with enormous suffering resulting.
The Restoring Family Links service
Tracking down people and putting them in contact with their family members is the aim of the Restoring Family Links service. The work is made possible thanks to the international network of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which work around the world to reunite families, re-establish contacts and find out information about those missing. Among the tools used in recent years to improve the service is the online platform Trace the Face (www.tracetheface.org
), launched in 2013.
This service has helped an average of one family per week be reunited with one of their members who they had lost contact with. In order to help more people get back in touch with each other, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also working on new uses of the Trace the Face platform, such as facial recognition and an algorithm system linked to names. In the autumn, several interactive stands will be set up in migrant reception centers managed by the Italian, French and German branches of the Red Cross. Link video: https://bit.ly/2Plv3Vh