A son’s journey from Northern Ireland has culminated in an emotional reunion with his father after 20 years of separation.
Winder Raj made the 17,000-kilometre journey last month to find his father, Janak, who he believed was homeless in Tarneit.
“We talked on a daily basis for many years,” Winder said. “Then we were talking every few weeks. But he’d been out of touch now for a year and we were worried.”
He said that Janak migrated from India two decades ago, leaving behind his wife, Satnam, and two sons in a bid to boost the family’s fortunes by working as a labourer in Australia.
The 63-year-old was admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital on March 26 after he was injured at Tarneit railway station.
Told of the his father’s general location by a family friend, Winder said he appealed for information at the station while carrying an old photo of Janak.
“I thought to myself, ‘How am I going to find him here? It’s a needle in a haystack’,” he said.
Father and son were reunited after social worker Helen McNicol contacted Tarneit station to find out more about Janak and attempt to identify next of kin.
“It was unclear whether he’d been assaulted, but he took a train to Southern Cross and then was brought to St Vincent’s emergency department without a wallet or ID, no phone and no shoes,” Ms McNicol said.
She said their reunion was very moving.
“It took Janak a few seconds for the penny to drop – he cried, Winder cried and there were tears from every staff member present,” she said.
The father and son have since returned to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland.