News • 25 Apr 2018

Long-lost family

Liliana, originally from Poland, had lost touch with her family overseas, but with the help of Open Minds was able to hire a genealogist to trace a long-lost cousin. 

Liliana is originally from Poland and had lost touch with her family during her years in Australia. She is a residential client with Open Minds, and had expressed anxiety regarding her lack of family connections. She had even taken to calling another client’s mother “Mum”.

Open Minds staff had made efforts to use Ancestry websites to attempt to reconnect Liliana with any long lost family members still alive in Poland. Disappointingly, there was no information available online about Liliana’s family. Open Minds Support Worker, Ripene Ruru, sought to take matters further and managed to get approval from the Public Trust to hire a professional genealogist in Poland. 

Sadly both Liliana’s parents had passed away, the genealogist therefore left a message on their gravestones in the hope that another family member would see it. It didn’t take long for Liliana and the Open Minds team to hear some good news: Liliana’s long-lost cousin, Adam, reached out, who she hadn’t seen since she was 11 years old. 

Ripene arranged a phone call between Adam and Liliana and even hired an interpreter – however the team were delighted to hear that when her cousin spoke to her, she responded in Polish. Liliana now has regular calls with Adam. 

Liliana’s interpreter, Halana, has also found Polish clubs and groups that Liliana can access to connect with the Polish community in Brisbane. 

Being able to contact relatives and re-establish a family connection has helped Liliana with her anxiety. 

Liliana said: “I have family in Poland, I phone my cousin Adam, he writes to me, and I have photos of my mother and father.”

If you or someone you care for would like to know more about how Open Minds supports people with diverse backgrounds, get in touch today.

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