Missing in Uganda: Sophia Koetsier

August 30 was the International Day of the Disappeared.
On this day there is worldwide attention for people who have disappeared and for their loved ones, those who remain behind, who are condemned to living in insecurity and pain for as long as they do not know the fate of that person they love so much.

It is a pain that has no end, that time does not make more bearable, on the contrary, it gets harder. The grief of missing that loved one, combined with hope, it is always there. Hope, which is always fighting with despair and with fear. Fear that this could be a life sentence.
The sorrow about a child that goes missing is not a wound that can heal, it is a bottomless pit, it is immeasurable.

Psychologists speak of ‘ambiguous loss’. This loss is not clear, it is confusing even, and you do not know if it is a definitive loss. Research has shown that no form of loss is as unmanageable and traumatizing as ambiguous loss. The continuous stress that those who stay behind experience, is devastating.
Not everyone understands this.

May 25 was the International Missing Children’s Day.
That evening the Dutch television program, RTL Boulevard, broadcast a short item on the subject in which I was briefly interviewed and spoke of our ceaseless efforts to find Sophia, and the hardship of missing our child without any kind of closure.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to grasp how someone can just disappear, as if ‘erased’, like words written with pencil on a piece of paper. When that person is your child, it’s absolutely impossible. Unbearable as well.
No child is as present as a missing child.

Covid-19 has produced a lot of extra obstacles, on top of the many others we have been struggling with continuously, ever since Sophia disappeared.
Traveling is complicated, certainly to African countries, but where there is a will there is a way. That will is most definitely there, so that difficult trip to Uganda will be made again shortly. Always with the hope of making true progress along the road that, as we passionately hope, will lead us to the truth, but most of all, to Sophia.

Marije Slijkerman
Gerard, Max en Jan Koetsier