Miracles on the Dusty Road
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On Wednesday, September 19, miracles took place on the outskirts of Ivia. Right in the middle of Sovetskaya Street, families were reunited, which due to life circumstances were separated many decades ago. No pathos and red tracks - on the dusty road people were embracing, who had never been seen before, close relatives who had been looking for each other for a long time.
Left to earn extra money, stayed - forever
Just over a hundred years ago, part of the Belarusian Tatars headed in search of a better life towards America. Many were planning to just make money and return home, but it turned out differently. They thought that they were going to the ocean for a while, but remained there forever. There were among those who left their homeland, and the Iviev Tatars. In a small place, however, as in other Belarusian cities, life was difficult at that time. So migrant workers went overseas, leaving children, spouses, brothers and sisters in Belarus. People did not even think that they would see them anymore.
The First World War began, then the revolution, then - the division of Belarus into two parts, then - the reunification of the country, the Soviet government and again the war. Many remained in America. Family ties were lost in the maelstrom of events.
But the memory of the relatives who had left in Tatar families was carefully preserved, passing documents, letters and old photos from generation to generation. Some were lucky - they were somehow found by American brothers, sisters, fathers and grandfathers. Then the correspondence was fastened. But there was no opportunity to meet.
And the descendants of those who once went from Belarus to America, in September 2018 came to Ivye. A delegation of 18 people has already visited places in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, and finally reached the “Belarusian Tatar capital”.
... Even an hour before the arrival of "our Americans", Ivye people began to gather around the Tatar public house. Everyone has old photos in their hands. People worry, they talk.
- And what about we know, hto Prvydze and us? Mozha, mahi hto? “I ufatara fatagrafii,” says one of the women, carefully pulling pictures from the envelope. Each of those who come believes that among the Americans will be their relatives. After all, it is unknown who exactly will come.
- ... My dziadzka on yay matsery zhanaty would be. Poty Yany unfolded. Yon have captured trapі, sweat stagnates ў Germanіі, and Yana pahala ў Ameryku. Yong tudy taxa sweat perebrabsўya. Former zhonka yes yago udzіla, - one of the women shows faded pictures. He says that relatives who settled in America corresponded with her father. They live somewhere near Cleveland.
“Dziadzka us taksam taxa.” Yon pіsakў at Baranavichy, ale geta is not a mountain, but a horse. Adsyul not far away. Duc pіsmo so і hadzіla tudy-syudy, pakul yes known Tatarachak, yakіya on prose pratsavalі, not trap_la. Yana pa familі і know us.
Iv'evchane long talk about their brothers and sisters, about great-grandfathers, about aunts and uncles. Show photos. His - and those who have lost a hundred years ago.
- We are their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Those who left for America once died, they say and add that America seems to have been somehow closer than it is now. After all, labor migrants came home before the First World War and actively maintained contact with their relatives.
“My mother was born there, in America, here is the grandmother’s grave, look,” another woman draws her photo, “then dad married again, and her stepmother took her, little one, here. And then she, as she said, "chalked gentleman there." I asked: “But you did not go to the heaps of heat”? And she says that the young marriage was given here. And so ended her American history.
Found in social networks and arrived in Belarus
The American Meryl wanted to come to Belarus in search of relatives . She found a group of Tatars of West Russia, Lithuania, Belarus & Poland on Facebook and wrote to the administrators. And spun.
In parallel, the Belarusian Tatars were looking for their relatives. In Ivie, for example, everything began with the search for relatives of Anna Rafalovich . A woman is a historian who works at a local school. Once I realized that she did not know anything about one of the branches. The search helped the group on Facebook.
She placed there a photograph of a great-grandfather, his two brothers and sister. It turned out that the very Meryl is her relative, and one of the men depicted in the photo is her grandfather.
Anna Rafalovich. Photo: Valery Yudin, TUT.BY
“My husband’s last name is Rafalovich, the maiden name is Radkevich, my mother is Safarevich, and my grandmother is Gambitskaya,” begins Anna. - The family of great-grandfather Aleja Gambitsky left for America in 1913. Parents, Jakub and Fatima, and four children. Great-grandfather was 14 years old. But when they boarded a ship in one of the Baltic ports, they did not let him in there. The boy had a fever, and the doctor decided it was typhoid. The family did not live in Ivye, but Aleev took some Iv'evchanin with them and brought them here. The teenager lived first in the barn, was hired to help the farms, then he got to his feet.
In 1921, a young man married a local girl, Mary. An invitation was sent to him from America, but he had not gone anywhere. At first, the wife did not let go, fearing that she would not return. Then came the children.
- But he corresponded with his brothers for a long time. True, he did not tell anyone about the family history, and when we wanted to know, he was no longer in the world. There was no one to ask, the woman says and adds that at first she didn’t even know the names of her relatives. The search was complicated by the fact that the Gambitsky surname is very common. But perseverance works wonders.
- I went through a lot of births - but no, not relatives. And it would have been in vain if Meryl had not appeared, who had recognized her grandfather Stephen in our photo, and then posted some more pictures of relatives. At the same time, we found the card of her grandfather, which he once sent to Alej.
Now relatives of Anna live in the New York area of Brooklyn. There is also a fairly large diaspora of our Tatars - about a hundred people. Anna says that they do not forget about their roots. Here, for example, from generation to generation, they pass recipes of those dishes that their ancestors prepared in Belarus.
The Americans had two hours planned for the meeting in Ivye, but they had to stay longer - so much had to tell each other!
Here, for example, Khalil Radkevich . An elderly man tells his story, barely holding back tears. His relatives left for America before the First World War. Return failed. From his Yevyev family he was left alone: the brothers died long ago. He has, of course, a daughter, but she is seriously ill and has been bedridden since childhood. There are practically no old photos in the family - the parental house burned down. And Khalil was left with only a large portrait of his parents, who, in a hurry, saving them from the fire, were brushed off the wall.
- My mother’s own sister, Amenya, left for America. She was from Aleksandrovich, and her husband, Radkevich, from Ivja. He went to Mecca and died there, but his relatives nevertheless transferred him to America and buried him there.
Today, Khalil hopes that at least one of the visitors will find out in the photo a married couple and tell about his American relatives.
Stephen and Khalil Radkevich. Photo: Valery Yudin, TUT.BY
It turned out even better. His cousin Stephen Radkevich arrived in Ivye , who immediately determined that his photographs were his uncle and aunt.
- So we are brothers, right? - Khalil still can not believe what happened, confused looks at the people around - and then firmly hugs "his American."
It is difficult to communicate - language barrier. Without a translator, Khalil, of course, tries to tell Stephen about his family and his fate. The American nods his head, although he does not understand what he is being told about - and he repeats in English that his mother Amenya and mother of Khalil Rosa are sisters. And he also searched for his relatives for a very long time, wrote requests, worked in archives.
Both Stephen and other American Tatars repeat the same thing - it’s very difficult to find their roots, because Belarusian Tatars have a lot of namesakes. For example, only in Ivie dozens of Rafalovich, Bogdanovich, Shaganovich and Radkevich live.
However, this story with a happy reunion is not the only one that has happened in Ivie now.
Linda , Mirema and Yakub drove purposefully to Ivie. Here their cousins and aunt, 89-year-old Khadyzha, were already waiting for them .
“First of all, I’ll wake up a svayak,” says grandmother excitedly. She never saw her sister, who had left for America at a young age. And now everything can not depart from their nephews.
“They waited for two sisters, and a brother also arrived,” says her daughter Aisha . And crying.
... For a long time the Americans and Ivyevchane went to town. They looked at the cemetery, showed their farms, treated them, of course, with tomatoes — and still didn’t want to let each other go. At parting, they promised each other not to lose touch and meet more often than once in 100 years.
So be it.