Published on November 16, 2022
Social worker Amanda Street joined Alive just one year ago to make a difference for patients at the end of life and their families. One of her proudest accomplishments so far has been reuniting a family separated by borders so that a mother and daughter could be together one last time.
When she started the process of reuniting this family, she was racing the clock. Her patient was in the final stages of a terminal illness. There was no way to know exactly how much time she had left, but she was holding on in hopes of seeing her daughter again.
She had immigrated to the United States with her son, but the daughter remained behind in their home country. While mother and daughter spoke on the phone and Facetimed often, the two hadn’t been able to hug or hold hands for more than a decade.
Amanda knew she had to do everything possible to reunite them, but in her heart she was afraid there was no way it would all come together in time. There were many obstacles to overcome. First there was a bureaucratic process to navigate. Amanda worked with Senator Haggerty’s office to understand the system. Then she helped the family with their application for a Humanitarian Visa, which is a temporary visa granted in special circumstances like this one. After that she had to follow up with two separate letters to the embassy from herself and an Alive doctor.
“It was awesome knowing that people want to help. Senator Haggerty’s office was amazing, but I honestly thought it wasn’t going to work,” Amanda said. “This process can take months, sometimes a whole year, and we didn’t have that time.”
Amanda didn’t let her fears stop her. She continued to do everything she could to make her patient’s last wish come true. After the paperwork was done, the daughter still had to pass an intensive interview with the U.S. Embassy. Once she passed the interview, she had to be vaccinated for COVID, but her country was struggling with a vaccine shortage. All the while the clock was ticking. In the end, she met all the requirements and flew to Nashville to be at her mother’s side.
When the daughter finally arrived at her mother’s bedside, Amanda felt like she had known her forever. They had spent months emailing and working together to get her there.
“Finally getting to meet her in person after all this time was incredible. She was so warm and open. She told me and the nurse that she felt like she had known us forever. It really did feel that way after all the time we had spent talking.”
“It was so heartwarming to see their interactions. She became a caregiver right off the bat. She was well informed and knew what was happening with her mother.”
Amanda’s patient was with both her son and her daughter when she died.
“We held her hands and cried with her when we were called out to her mother’s death. It meant the world to this family that there is a program like ours.”
Amanda is celebrating this as one of the greatest accomplishments of her first year at Alive, and she looks forward to helping others navigate this process.