Two sisters separated by war in the Democratic Republic of Congo nine years ago saw each other for the first time July 5, and a Meadow Lake family helped make their reunion happen.
Andrea Halstead, who grew up in Meadow Lake but now lives in Saskatoon, met Angelique Uwamahoro while volunteering with the Open Door Society. The two became fast friends, and Angelique got to know Halstead’s entire family quickly.
Angelique, the oldest sibling of six, lost contact with her entire family after the war ripped the family apart in 2009. She immigrated to Canada with her husband Serge and their young son Albert in 2013. She said she felt a strong bond with Halstead, and was thankful for a new friend.
“Andrea was the first person that came to visit me, and she brought me oranges and cinnamon buns and we talked for a long time,” Angelique said. “It was like a miracle, because I was really able to share with her. When Andrea came to my house she made me realize I was accepted, and it made that there are still people with a good heart. It changed a lot for me.”
For years, Angelique said she didn’t know how her family members were doing. When the Open Door Society discovered a woman named Brenda Uwamahoro, she said she didn’t believe it could be her sister at first.
Thanks to Halstead, and her family back in Meadow Lake including her mother Joanne Gislason, the paperwork and fundraising to get Brenda relocated to Canada started about two years ago, and Angelique’s long-lost sister is now finally on Canadian soil.
“My heart feels like I have my real blood with me in Canada,” Angelique said. “I still have not woken from the dream. I know in life to never give up. To have [Brenda] here is a big change and a blessing.”
Halstead and her mother Gislason worked with a group of five others in Meadow Lake to help sponsor the Uwamahoro family. Brenda will eventually be moving up to Meadow Lake in the fall.
The community has stepped up to help make the move go smoothly. Meadow Lake clothing store Martodam’s asked community members if they would be interested in donating store credit to an account for Brenda, and the response from the community has been overwhelming, Gislason said.
“Angelique was willing to work hard, even more than one job, in order to save enough to sponsor Brenda herself,” Halstead said. “I too was very thankful and pleasantly surprised that people were so willing to help someone they had never met before.”
She said seeing two sisters reunite at the Saskatoon airport was a very touching moment to witness
“I certainly had tears,” Gislason said. “They are amazing individuals that have been through so much. It was a joy to see them embrace one another.
Brenda said she is thrilled to be in Canada.
“Sometimes I don’t believe that it has happened,” she said. It feels like a dream to be with my sister again. I am thankful to God and to everyone who helped me.”
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