Thanks to the New Zealand Red Cross Restoring Family Links programme she was able to flee Pakistan with five of her children and build a new life in New Zealand.

“I was night after night crying all the time and I was praying all the time to see him again,” she says via an interpreter.

The family is from Afghanistan but spent time in Pakistan before coming to New Zealand. Ali left Pakistan before the rest of the family. He was granted asylum in New Zealand after being rescued by the Norwegian ship Tampa in 2001.“He fled the country to save his own life,” Sherin says.

After making it to New Zealand he spent many years trying to get clearance for his mother and siblings to join him. During this time Sherin worried about her son and did not know what had happened to him.

“They were very horrible days on me,” she says. “There were nights when I could not sleep. After a few years, when I got a phone call from him, I felt a little more comfortable about the situation.”

After getting residence approval from Immigration New Zealand Ali contacted New Zealand Red Cross Restoring Family Links Advisor Michelle Dwight to apply for International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) travel documents, because his family had no passports.

“It was war and our house was damaged and we were all under threat for our lives,” Sherin says. She was thrilled when she heard her family could move to New Zealand.

“I am usually scared of planes and flights but I was that happy that I got on the flight. It did not come in my mind that one day I would get to see him again.”

Sherin waited on her new door step waiting for Ali to arrive. “I started crying when he opened the door and fell into my arms.”

She says her family would not have been able to come to New Zealand without the Red Cross travel documents.

“It was with your help that made this happen. We’re very happy even though we had a very tough life at the beginning.”

Michelle Dwight from Red Cross says the scene at the house was very emotional when the family was reunited after 12 years apart.

“I think everyone can understand what it might be like to be separated from loved ones.”

She says Red Cross along with other organisations spent months working on the Hassaini family’s case and it finally paid off when they were reunited.

“They’re all very thankful,” Michelle says. “It is lovely.”