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A celebration for Selam

There wasn’t talk of what happened during the more than four years that 20-year-old Selam Measho was missing. There were tears and great hooplas of laughter as Measho gathered with family and new friends who she was getting to know but who helped reunite her with her family.

Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Selam Measho (left) hugs her mother, Genet Abraham. Measho has been reunited with her family after going missing in Libya more than four years ago.

“I can’t explain how happy I am. Still now I can’t believe I am with my family,” she says.

When she was 15, Measho left a Libyan refugee camp to sell bread at a market. She never came home. Her father went looking for his daughter every day. Two months later, he too disappeared.

Desperately seeking Selam

Visa approved for long-lost daughter

Exactly what happened to Measho isn’t clear. It seems she was either kidnapped or led to Holland by a woman who had told her that her family had been killed. Truthfully, Measho’s mother, Genet Abraham, along with Measho’s sisters — Milka now 13 and Feban, 8 — made it to Canada in 2013.

Here in St. John’s, Abraham met a woman named Gudrun Williams to whom she told her story.

“I felt kind of touched by the fact that a 15 year old should have been lost for five years,” Williams says.

Williams, who used to volunteer with the Refugee Immigrant Advisory Council, contacted the council but, they couldn’t find her. She also contacted a German Red Cross search service.

“They could not find her in their database. And they informed me that there were thousands of children going through Europe, lost, coming in through Italy and a lot of them would not register because they were so afraid of being sent back to their own country.”

In a turn of events that is nothing short of miraculous, Abraham received a tip that Measho might be in a small village in Holland. Williams did up posters with Abraham’s picture and the words “I am looking for my daughter.” The Red Cross took the poster to Measho.

“The first time when the Red Cross called me, they said ‘We have found your mother. I don’t know what to say. I was so happy. All my body just started shaking and my heart. And when I saw her picture, I said ‘She’s my mother, but I can’t believe it,’ I wanted to hear her voice,” Measho says.

Liberal MHA Tom Osborne heard of Measho’s story as he has kids going to the same school as Abraham’s. He was asked if he could help get Measho into Canada, so he contacted Liberal MP Gerry Byrne.

”The story was so fantastic that there was an air of caution that immediately came in my mind,” Byrne says.

But the incredible story turned out to be credible.

Both Byrne and Osborne are joining family and friends for a meal this day at the West End Baptist Church in St. John’s. It’s a celebration for Selam.

“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of it and just to see the family reunited,” Osborne says.

Measho is looking forward to her future in this province and is thinking of becoming a nurse.

“I love St. John’s. Really lovely people. I never saw people like St. John’s people,” she says.

Measho’s father is still missing.

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