Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/8/2017 (852 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than three years after she last saw her son, Nofa Mihlo Rafo will finally be reunited with her boy Thursday at the Winnipeg airport.
Mihlo Rafo has been pleading with the Canadian government to bring her son Emad Mishko Tamo to Canada since discovering he was alive on July 15 after photos of the injured boy were posted on social media following his liberation from Islamic State militants.
"It will be emotional for everybody, whether you know the family or not. It’ll be emotional," said Hadji Hesso, a spokesman for the Yazidi Association of Manitoba.
"It’s a true story, a unique story, and after what happened to the entire region and in particular this mother and her son, it’s just going to be a fantastic moment."
Emad was only nine when mother and son were captured and separated by IS militants while attempting to escape the besieged town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, where thousands of Yazidi men, woman and children were murdered or abducted.
Mihlo Rafo arrived in Winnipeg in January this year with four of her children as government-sponsored Yazidi refugees.
She knew Emad had been captured and imprisoned, but for years didn’t know whether he was alive or dead. Also missing was another of her children and her husband.
Last month, the young boy was liberated by Iraqi forces in Mosul and his picture was circulated on social media. The photo was spotted by one of his mother’s cousins, who informed Mihlo Rafo her son was alive.
It was at this point she was able to speak to him on the phone for the first time in years and begin frantically trying to get him to Canada.
During his three-year ordeal Emad had been shot in the arm and cut by shrapnel on the right side of his stomach. Although he received medical treatment in a refugee camp in Dohuk, the Yazidi Association of Manitoba plans to get him further medical and mental health treatment upon his arrival.
"He’s doing good, but he’s been traumatized after being a prisoner of IS. When he arrives he’ll need more medical examination so doctors can determine what he needs to recover as quick as possible," Hesso said.
A video taken of Emad in a Kurdish hospital shows the boy telling his mom he’s OK, and in another, he says in Kurdish, "Take me to Canada to my mom."
Emad’s request will soon come true.
Shortly after midnight Thursday, his plane is scheduled to land in Winnipeg and Mihlo Rafo, his siblings and the entire Yazidi Winnipeg community will be there to meet him.
Two other families of Yazidi refugees living in Winnipeg will also be arriving, and the Yazidi Association of Manitoba is inviting anyone who wants to welcome the families to join them in celebrating the reunion at the airport.
Emad won’t be leaving the airport empty handed, either. After learning the young boy really wanted a bike when he arrived in Canada, a brand new bicycle has been donated for him.
"She (Mihlo Rafo) cannot wait. She’s happy, there’s no description. She’ll be reunited with her son. It may have taken a few years, but she’ll be reunited with her son," Hesso said.
Updated on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 9:53 AM CDT: Fixes typo.
1:13 PM: updated