Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Honoring A Father Who Fought For 10 Years To Reunite With His Son

Recently I spent several days in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the I CARE Foundation as we continue our legislative initiatives to create new laws or modify existing laws that will protect children from international parental child abduction or from human trafficking.

During our visit and various meetings, we were honored to have the American Flag flown over the United States Capitol on behalf of several of our board members as well as on behalf of several children who the I CARE Foundation assisted in safely bringing home.

It is my great privilege to have received a very special American Flag and citation for Philippe, the son of my very dear friend Eugene.  Philippe was reunited with his father after nearly 10 years apart: as a toddler child, he was detained without his father's permission in the Ivory Coast. However, all that changed on January 17th, 2012, when Philippe walked through the United States Customs exit at John F. Kennedy airport in New York City and into the arms of his loving father. Miracles do happen.

The American Flag flown in Philippes honor is a reminder to Philippe that this great nation - the nation of his birth - is his home.  The flag is also a testament to the great love his father has for him as it acknowledges the never-ending quest for Eugene to reunite with his son.

When I think of heroes in my own life, one of the first persons that comes to mind is my pal Eugene.  Eugene left the war-torn country of the Ivory Coast and came to the United States of America in hope of creating a better life for himself.  Armed with a masters degree in maritime engineering and fluent in many languages, he made his way in New York City.  And when his child was detained in Africa without his permission, Eugene held onto his faith and dug deep within his character to never give up the hope and belief that one day he would reunite with his son.

In early December of 2011 a sliver of hope and opportunity presented itself that perhaps Eugene would reunite with his son.  I was thrilled to play a role in facilitating that hope into a reality.

So Philippe, if you ever read this, I want you to know, as I have said to you on occasion, that your father is a great man who loves you with all of his heart.  The American Flag you are about to receive from me and the I CARE Foundation was flown in honor of both you and your father.

We are all so proud of you.

Peter Thomas Senese