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Father, daughter reunite after 23 years with PHL Red Cross help PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 14:00

By JOEL C. ATENCIO

The search is over for a father and his daughter after 23 years of search.

It was so stressful being separated and going through anxieties, hopelessness and despair for 61-year old Remegio Bercede before he found his 34-year old daughter Mary Jane.

Thanks to Philippine Red Cross Restoring Family Links program, PRC Chairman Richard Gordon”s daily radio program “Aksyon Solusyon” and to the Red Cross 143 volunteers who literally walked extra miles to trace the missing father and daughter.

Poverty set them apart. In 1988, then 13-year old Mary Jane dared to leave their home in Surigao del Sur to look for a job somewhere, anywhere, to help her poor parents and five siblings survive.

Equipped only with guts and sheer determination to earn a living, Mary Jane first landed in Butuan City where she worked in a restaurant. Later, with the help of some good Samaritans she was able to go to Cebu where she worked as house helper for three months.

Her desire for better opportunities brought her to Manila where she ended up again as house helper.
Mary Jane missed her family. She wrote them several times but never got a reply. This worried Mary Jane, especially when she heard about the landslides that hit her home town.

She wanted to go home, but the uncertainties of home and family she has not heard of since she left frightened her. Besides, she did not have money to bring home.

When Mary Jane heard over Aksyon Solusyon that Red Cross has a program that restores family links and traces missing people, she immediately texted the number of the program. To her surprise, Gordon called her minutes later and asked her about her story.

What happened five days later was the most precious moment Mary Jane always yearned for – reuniting with her father Remigio whom she missed so dearly.
Gordon, his co-anchor Amelyn Veloso and all the Red Cross staff and 143 volunteers in the studio tried to hold back their tears as they too, felt the emotional reunion of the father and daughter.

Gordon held his thumbs up and nodded his head, “Job well done”, addressing the Red Cross staff and volunteers who escorted Remigio and Mary Jane to the studio.
PRC Social Services Manager Aida Beltejar later in an interview said, that on the request of Mary Jane, Red Cross traced her father Remigio.

They found him not in Surigao del Sur, but in Sitio Taglimaw, Barangay Salvacion in the municipality of Prosperidad, Agusan Del Sur after days of searching.
With the help of PRC chapters in Pasay City, Surigao del Sur, Agusan Del Norte and Agusan Del Sur and their respective 143 volunteers, in particular, Ermalyn De Asis, who had to walk almost 10 kms to find Remigio, Red Cross has once again succeeded in restoring family links of the separated father and daughter.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said this is only one of the many tracing and family reunification cases Red Cross has accomplished. She said many more reunifications were successfully completed in the past including those Filipinos living abroad.

Pang attributed the success of Restoring Family Links program to the hard working Red Cross staff and active participation of Red Cross 143 volunteers who have been trained to respond to humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable at the barangay level, including those with missing relatives.

Red Cross 143 is the flagship volunteer program of PRC which recruits and trains 44 volunteers in every barangay – one leader and 43 members to serve as disaster responders and providers of humanitarian assistance on the ground.

“They are the humanitarian arms of PRC who ensure that Red Cross mission to save life and alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable is carried out in every corner of the country”, Gordon said with pride.

 
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