By Anita Foster, American Red Cross North Texas Region
To view the original, extended version of this post, please visit the American Red Cross Dallas Fort Worth blog.
I recently asked my friends what their 12-year-old daughters worried about. They answered hairstyles, clothing trends, boys and popularity. None of my friends said their 12-year old-daughters feared for their lives. For 12-year-old Pascaline Mavugo, this was a pressing concern for nearly six years.
Twenty years ago, during a time of great violence, Pascaline was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2004, she and her two older siblings left for school, unaware of how their lives would change before nightfall. Their home, with four younger siblings inside, had been set on fire and their parents murdered. The three siblings fled and never returned.
For six years, they lived in the streets, until United States Immigration officials told them that they were headed for America. Pascaline came to live with her foster family in a suburb south of Fort Worth, Texas. After a while, her thoughts returned to the Congo. She never knew what happened to her younger four brothers. Had they died in the fire?
Hearing her story, the American Red Cross initiated a search that went from DFW to Africa. One year later, the Red Cross delivered the message that three of her siblings had survived and were living in a refugee camp in Uganda. Today, Pascaline talks to her brothers frequently.
For now, Pascaline lives with her American family, but she longs for the day when she can return to her real “home” and live peacefully. Let’s all hope for Pascaline that when she has a 12-year-old daughter of her own, her daughter’s biggest concerns will be hairstyles, clothing trends, boys and popularity. Girls should not have to worry about more than that.