Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to help you on your way.
It’s hard to know when or how that help will come…in my case, the help I needed was a message from a complete stranger on Instagram.
The Help of a Stranger
Social media. We either love it or hate it — but it’s inevitably part of our lives. It’s what connects us. Social media has quite literally connected me with people I thought I’d never see again.
In 2015, I met Shahidah in Thailand. In 2019, I met Shahidah’s mother in Bangladesh. Shahida lives in Texas, but I had no way of finding her. It took 4 years for me to gain contact with Shahida.
It took a complete stranger on Instagram to help me find her.
It was around 1:00 am Bangladesh time. I was in my apartment in Cox’s Bazar about to head to bed. I received a notification on my phone —
A woman from Dallas messages me. She shares about her work with the Rohingya community in Texas. I was surprised. I haven’t met too many Americans working with this small community.
It was a long shot, but I decided to go for it.
“I know this is random, but I’ve been looking for a Rohingya friend who lives in Texas. I don’t have her number, but I have heard from mutual friends that she was resettled in in the area…obviously Texas is a big state, but….” I share my story of the mission of reuniting with my Rohingya friends I knew when I was 18.
She responds by sending a photo of Shahida.
“Is this your friend? She’s one of my closest Rohingya friends here.”
What are the odds that of all people in Texas — and of all Rohingya people resettled — that these two are connected?
It’s been over a year since I received that message from the stranger on Instagram.
Since that moment, I have been able to reconnect with Shahida by phone. Since I just happened to be in Bangladesh at the time, I was able to find her mother in the refugee camps the next day. And here I am, standing with her mother in Bangladesh, sharing photos of her daughter who has now moved to Texas.
Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to help you on your way. It’s hard to know when or how that help will come…in my case, the help I needed was a message on Instagram.
That random message led me to reunite with a woman I’d been trying to find for four years.
By the way, that woman on Instagram is no longer a stranger. Miranda is incredible. We talk all the time. She’s connected me with incredible people, helped me with my projects, and played such a huge part in both my life and Shahida’s — and we still haven’t met in person.
Post-Covid goals: a flight to Texas to see Miranda and Shahidah.