A Facebook chat with a distant relative helped an Abu Dhabi expat find and reunite with his half-brother after 23 years of separation.
The Sudanese national, Zachariah Peter Bodia, had been estranged from his younger brother, Lino Peter Bodia, while he was just 14, after the death of their father in 1992.
Lino, 29, was living in their father's second home in Khartoum with his mother and elder sister, who had passed away. Their father, who was a military officer in the Sudanese army, had four wives, all having children. And after his demise, Lino migrated to Egypt and later to Australia with his mother and uncles.
And on Wednesday, the two brothers were able to meet again in Abu Dhabi. Zachariah, 37, had arranged the UAE visit for his younger brother so he could see him. They have been communicating online and through telephone calls since he found him four years ago, through chatting with a relative who surprisingly knew Lino's mother, after 19 years without knowing his whereabouts.
"My brother landed in Abu Dhabi last night and I was so happy meeting again," Zachariah, a hospitality expert, told 'Khaleej Times' at Abu Dhabi's Mushrif Mall on Wednesday, as he took brother on a city tour.
"I couldn't believe that I was seeing him again after all those many years. I am here with him now. This is such a great and an exciting moment for both of us.
"I have been keen on seeing this happen for many years. I even tried to apply for a visit visa to Australia several times so I could meet him, but I couldn't get luck."
The Sudanese national said it was the first time he was seeing his brother physically after more than two decades. "I last saw him in 1995 when he was staying in Khartoum with my step-mum. For me I was staying in Shendi in Northern Sudan," said Zachariah. "And a few years later, I learned that Lino had moved to Europe or America with his mum and uncles.
"I was still a teenager and I had no idea where exactly they had moved. And no one in the family knew the exact information about the whereabouts of my brother."
After completing his university studies, Zachariah says he embarked on the job of hunting for his brother, by trying to ask everyone, including family friends and relatives if anyone knew where Lino and his mother had migrated or heard about them.
"When I came in UAE, I continued to try finding my brother but in vain," he said. "It was not until 2013 when I was linked to Lino through a Facebook chat with my distant aunt who stays in Australia after looking for him for many years."
Zachariah says his aunt had just become his friend on Facebook when he asked him about Lino.
"She told me she didn't know him when I first asked her. And when I told her about his mother's names, she said she knew the woman and was staying in a nearby town in Australia," he said.
Zachariah's aunt then linked him to Lino's mum and eventually to Lino through Facebook.
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"All I could remember was that Lino was a handsome and charming four-year-old, and when I saw his photo on Facebook after so many years, Lino had not changed," he said.
"This is a great reunion," said Lino who works for a Construction firm in Australia.
He says he was sad for many years as he couldn't meet his elder brother and all other siblings back in Sudan, including 12 sisters and nine brothers.
"I am so happy now that I have met my elder brother. I'm planning to go to Sudan in the near future and see my other siblings," he said.
"I have never seen majority of them as I left Sudan while I was still a small boy. Zachariah is the one who even told me about many of my siblings and other relatives after we linked up again through Facebook."
"Now that I have found my family, I don't want to lose them again," said Lino, a father of two girls.
Zachariah, who has three children staying in Sudan, said he took some days off work to have some fun with his brother including going for desert safari, visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Al Ain, and Dubai before he returns to Australia next week.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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