After nearly two years of agonizing worry, Helene Batyo and Hubert Simwerayi were reunited with their seven children in September. When fleeing for their lives from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002, the couple was forced to leave their children behind. Bureaucratic red tape plus a lack of money for plane tickets prevented the children from following.
A story in the Winter 2004 issue of this magazine highlighted the family's plight, and UNH students, professors and local activists worked to raise awareness and funds. Help arrived from U.S. congressmen, nonprofit organizations, anonymous donors, local businesses and community members.
The reunification effort was long and circuitous, clogged with DNA testing, humanitarian parole visas, repeated embassy visits, plane tickets bought and cancelled, all endured with the knowledge that the children were in imminent danger. "I can't change the immigration laws," says Dudley Dudley, a former Durham state representative who got a crash course in the complexity of immigration. "But at least I could raise money and help with publicity." She also made countless phone calls, helping to move the case forward. Finally, on Sept. 10, all seven Simwerayi children walked off a plane at Boston's Logan Airport and into the arms of their parents.Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents