Are you my father?Happy ending as girl re-unites with father
After an 18-year wait, Loureen Ijeji Wafula was on Saturday re-united with her father, Mr George Rutere, at an emotional ceremony held in Chogoria town, Tharaka Nithi County.
The reunion came less than a week after Daily Nation’s Living magazine published a story titled “Are you my father?”
In the story published on Wednesday last week, Loureen, 21, who lives in Bungoma but is a student in Eldoret, said she was seeking to be re-united with her father three years after her mother died.
And on Saturday, she met her father at the Chuka Police Station, where his colleagues had organised a reunion party. Father and daughter later proceeded to his home in the nearby Chogoria town.
“I finally have a dad. I have waited for this moment for so long,” she said amid tears of joy.
Mr Rutere, who has four other children with his wife Lucy Karimi, said that his prayer to one day reunite with his daughter had finally been answered.
“I have been looking for my daughter too. I went to see his mother three times in Busia in an attempt to negotiate custody or visiting rights. I was not successful and after my transfer to Meru, I lost contact with her,” he said. “All I have been holding on to are her memories and a small picture of her.”
Mr Rutere’s colleague and former classmate, Inspector Gilbert Wafula, narrated how ecstatic Mr Rutere had been since he saw the picture of his daughter in the Daily Nation. “He has been emotional since he saw his daughter in the newspaper and has been carrying that cut-out all through,” said Inspector Gilbert.
Chuka police station OCS Stanley Masinde described Loureen’s decision to search for her father as courageous.
“Not many children would go as far as she has gone in search of their roots. This was a brave move that has proved that if we all reached out, then we would be able to reunite with those we love, who are apart from us.” Officers held a prayer and thanksgiving ceremony at the Chuka Police Station church.
“This is not only a big day for Loureen and her father. But it is also a big day for us at this station. It is an indication that we are human too and desire to love, to be loved and to be with our loved ones,” Insp Masinde said.
According to him, Loureen’s search for her father should serve as a challenge to all men who don’t know where the children they have fathered are faring. “You cannot run away from your own blood.”
Loureen said she was happy with the result of her quest.
“I could have chosen to forget about him and move on with my life. But I am glad that I didn’t,” she said.
Although her desire was to see her father just one more time, she said hoped her encounter would open the door for her to begin harmonious family relations between her and her new found siblings.
Loureen, a business administration student in Eldoret town, has a six-year-old sister living with her grandmother in Bungoma. She was accompanied by her aunt, Maureen Maraka to the reunion.
Speaking to Nation at his home in Chogoria, Mr Rutere said he learnt of the death of Loureen’s mother, Pamela Amondi Wafula, through the Living Magazine article.
Pamela died in October 2010 from blood cancer.
Addressing her newly found relatives, Loureen said that the reunion was the most cherished moment in her life and expressed gratitude at finding her father.
“Not only have I found my father, but I have also found sisters, whom I never had before. I now have someone to call a mother, after I lost my own mom three years ago,” she said.
Lucy Karimi, Rutere’s wife, said she was ready to be Loureen’s new mother.
“A child is a blessing and Loureen is a blessing to me and my family. I will take her as my own child, love and take care of her just as I love and take care of my other children.”
Mr Rutere challenged other men who don’t know the whereabouts of their children to go out and look for them.
“She is my daughter and I am proud that she is my child. That’s why I didn’t run when she appeared in the paper. I knew that I had to reach out for her and I wish that other men in the same position can do the same,” Mr Rutere said.
After the reunion, Loureen returned with her auntie, Ms Maraka, to her home. “I know that she is dying to stay a little longer and bond with her dad. There will be time for that. But even as happy as we are, we have to ask her father to bring us some cows for taking care of her in Bungoma,” Ms Maraka said.