International Child Abduction - Mali!
It happens: A parent kidnaps his/her child and flees to a foreign country.
It happened to 5-year-old Maayimuna “Muna” N’Diaye, who was abducted and taken to Mali in 2011 by her father.
Her mother, Dr. Noelle Hunter, has graciously agreed to tell her story to help families who are dealing with an international child abduction. Each Wednesday in March, Dr. Hunter will share, in her words, her fight to get her daughter back and her “Mission for Muna.”
I didn’t get the call last Tuesday. I’d hoped to talk to my daughter, Muna, whom I haven’t seen or spoken to since Christmas Day 2011. She’s five, and she’s in Mali, West Africa. Muna was abducted to Mali by her father, Ibrahim N’Diaye, on Dec. 27, 2011.
As he drove off with her to begin his portion of a court-ordered holiday timesharing, I knew something was wrong. I had a gut feeling even then about what was to come. Or at least I thought I did. As it turns out, I, like so many other parents of internationally-abducted children, was wholly unprepared for life, loss and seeming powerlessness after my child was abducted to a foreign land.
I waited for her on New Year’s Day, but they never arrived at the court-designated meeting spot, a McDonald’s restaurant in our small eastern Kentucky town. As the minutes ticked on, I would know for the first time what other parents like me have known for weeks, months, years, and decades. It’s the waiting and the not knowing that wear you down.
In the days that followed, I’d learn that Muna’s father had meticulously planned their exit, in violation of a joint custody order with specific travel stipulations. The judge ordered that I retain her U.S. passport because he suspected, as we all did, that Ibrahim was a flight risk with her. I’ve since learned that Muna’s dual nationality status allowed them to leave this country undetected en route to her father’s Bamako home.
I’d also be confronted with disbelief from local law enforcement, the fact that people in my hometown colluded with my ex-husband in her abduction, and the knowledge that the U.S. Department of State would work on my case only to the extent that I pressed it. I quickly surmised that I was in for the fight of my life.
Last week, I waited by the phone for the call that I somehow knew I wouldn’t get. Ibrahim has set himself against the wishes of his own family, his government and the U.S. government in perpetuating this abduction. Why should he heed anyone’s request? U.S. Embassy officials in Bamako, who have been my only source of information about Muna, had planned a third request to Ibrahim to allow a telephone call between Muna and me. My still silent cell phone is his answer.
At moments when I’m tempted to doubt, I remind myself of great strides already made to bring my daughter home— a goal to which I am irrevocably committed. Her name is being spoken at the highest levels of U.S. government, the Mali government is paying attention, and we have a growing and deeply-caring community of family and friends in town and online.
If you are interested in signing the petition to bring Muna back to the United States, please do so by clicking here.
Noelle Hunter is the mother of three daughters, Rachel, Rysa, and Muna. Dr. Hunter began the Lighting Her Way Home campaign to raise awareness and support for Muna’s return from Mali, West Africa, where she unlawfully taken by her father in 2011. Noelle is an instructor of reading and writing at Maysville Community & Technical College in Morehead, Ky. She earned a BS in Journalism and an MPA from Ohio University, and earned her doctorate of political science from West Virginia University. For more information contact email@example.com or see Muna’s Facebook page: Lighting Her Way Home.
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