Amira Ali stood nervously in the Denver International Airport, waiting to meet the daughter she hadn’t seen in 24 years.
“America saved my life,” said Ali, who arrived in the U.S. decades ago after fleeing Sudan. “I’m very happy. It’s good day for me.”
Suddenly, a shriek in the distance: her daughter Tina Deng, now 30, had spotted Ali and was running toward her. They embraced, and sobbed. Soon, Ali would also meet the grandchildren she never knew she had.
“God bless America, and God bless my kids,” Ali said, overjoyed.
Until recently, Ali thought her daughter Tina, her sister and her mother had all died in Sudan’s civil war. But when they discovered each other on Facebook, everything changed. After living separate lives for so many years, they finally reunited this week in Colorado.
“I’m so very, very happy,” said Deng as she hugged her mother. “It’s a long time, my mom is like a dream and now I see her, I can’t believe. But I’m happy.”
As a young mother, Ali had fled her southern Sudanese village during a raid by local rebels. In the chaos Ali lost track of her mother, sister, and 6-year-old daughter, Tina. After walking through the desert for four days with one of her other children, Ali finally reached a refugee camp. Her family was one of many torn apart by the war in Sudan which has killed 2 million people.
She spent months in two other countries until the United Nations helped Ali seek asylum in the United States, where she moved to Colorado and took English lessons to help her become an American citizen.
In Denver, Amira began a new life. She had no job skills but would volunteer to copy papers or babysit at the Colorado African Organization, a nonprofit that helps African immigrants adjust to life in the U.S. While there, a friend urged Ali to join Facebook, suggesting someone from her past might recognize her. And that’s how she came to discover her long-lost family.
“It’s miraculous. It truly is a miracle,” said George Brown, Ali’s English teacher and Executive Director of the Colorado African Organization. “She was discovered through the Facebook page by her sister in South Sudan, and her sister emailed and said, ‘You know your daughter is here with me. We are alive.’”
Ann Curry shares this incredible reunion tonight on “Nightly News with Brian Williams.”