Family Reunion…’I got my family in my hands’

Family Reunion…‘I got my family in my hands’ Amanda Fisher / 19 May 2013 DUBAI – Three months should barely make up for 38 years, but for Mohammed Omar Disombo, who has been searching for his family for nearly four decades, it is as though no time has passed at all. Sixty-four-year-old Mohammed Disomba, second from left, had the experience of a lifetime — 38 years in the making — when he went to the US to meet his daughter, Nina, left, granddaughter Nasheba, 20, second from right, and grandson Allen, 15, as well to reunite with his wife, Lucille, after almost four decades. “I found them and went there and got my family, my final journey, I got my family in my hands,” he said. The 64-year-old Tanzanian national, who has spent almost 40 years in the UAE, recently got back from a three-month trip of a lifetime to Texas, to meet for the first time his 38-year-old daughter Nina and three grandchildren, and reconnect with his estranged wife of nearly 40 years. “It was amazing … this question (about how I felt) I cannot answer. After a long time, seeing them after so long, it’s like you’re born again.” 37-year painful wait for family reunion Disombo’s long separation began six months after he married wife Lucille in Texas in 1974, when his American employer transferred him to Sharjah. Four years later, the ship he was working on sank off the Indian coast, taking his important documentation with it — effectively locking him out of America, he said. While he sent letters, and money, to his wife and young daughter, eventually they came back with ‘Return to sender’, after his wife moved towns. The quest to reconnect began in 1995, though the first breakthrough came online only 13 years later, when colleague Mohammed Fasiuddin spent hours trying to track the family down. Six months later, Nina was traced through a parking ticket. Disombo first made contact with his daughter three years ago, though it took from them till late last year for his US visa to finally come through, as a result of complications from an American conviction decades ago, and weighty paperwork the US authorities requested, he said. “I was fighting very hard to get it…‘Bring this, bring this, bring this’.” However, he says he now has permanent residency, thanks to support from his family, particularly his daughter’s half-brother — his wife’s son — who put up thousands of dollars in security. There were eight family members to greet him at the airport, with many breaking down in tears when they saw him. “(Lucille) couldn’t walk.” Seeing his wife and daughter was very natural, Disombo said, though it was sadness for him to find Lucille in bad health with diabetes and weighing over 300 kilograms after years of poor diet. “I didn’t try to get another women (after I left America), I never married, I always tried to see my wife.” Daughter Nina, who now works for a retirement home, said her life was now “complete”. “I was so nervous, balling my eyes out (but when I met him) I gave him a big hug. I was so excited, I have been waiting so long to do that. I had faith. I knew it would happen.” Disombo said he does not know what he will do next, as he has almost two years left on his Dubai visa — courtesy of his long-time employer Dubai Airports’ executive senior vice-president Jamal Al Hai. Al Hai had twice extended Disombo’s visa as an airport employee, in order to not disrupt the American visa process — if he had not, Disombo would have been forced out of the country, adding further setbacks. Al Hai was now sponsoring Disombo to look after one of his buildings, and while Disombo said he wanted to repay his employer’s kindness, he was hoping to get a good job opportunity in Texas and eventually move to be with his family. And when Hollywood finally creates an adaptation of Disombo’s story, he knows just the actor to play him: “Will Smith”. Taylor Scott International

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