Liberian woman in Fargo reunites with her children after eight years apart
FARGO -- Every night before she went to bed, Matilda Dahn talked to the pictures of her two children. She had not seen her daughter, Precious, and son, Levi, since leaving her home country of Liberia eight years ago. Dahn's American-born daughter...
FARGO -- Every night before she went to bed, Matilda Dahn talked to the pictures of her two children.
She had not seen her daughter, Precious, and son, Levi, since leaving her home country of Liberia eight years ago. Dahn's American-born daughter Praise, 5, had never met them.
On Feb. 2, Dahn wasn't talking to pictures. She was tucking all three children into bed at her Fargo apartment and thanking her friends for uniting her family.
"It was just dreams coming true. I still can't believe they are here. I am just so excited. I'm very happy," Dahn said.
Liberia is an African country still recovering from bloody civil wars. About 85 percent of its population lives in poverty.
When Dahn left Liberia with her then-husband, he promised her the children would soon follow. While her parents cared for the children in Liberia, the couple made a new home in the United States. But Dahn found her life was not as she first dreamed. She was in an abusive relationship in a strange land, with no money and poor English skills.
Dahn and Praise found new freedom with the help of YWCA Cass Clay. She said the YWCA gave her shelter as a single mother and helped her find a job in housekeeping at Sanford Health.
Dahn said at that time, it looked doubtful she would ever see her two children again.
"I have no family here, it was just me," she said.
But others were more optimistic. Dahn's Sanford co-workers gathered $600 in donations to help pay for the children's airline tickets.
Her church, Metropolitan Baptist Church in Fargo, held a potluck that raised $4,300 for the children's airline tickets and legal fees.
The Rev. Steve Burrell said Dahn's story resonated with fellow church members.
"She needed to get the kids over (here) as soon as possible. She wanted them here for a better life," Burrell said. "We were glad to help her out."
Dahn became a member of the church a year ago, Burrell said. About that time she also became a U.S. citizen, paving the way to bring her children to America, where they would be considered citizens.
CPrecious, 14, and Levi, 12, arrived at Hector International Airport about 3 p.m. on Feb. 2. Both said they were happy to see their mother and meet their sister.
"I just can't thank everyone enough," Dahn said. "You have a special place here with special people."