After searching for her for years, a former Yugoslavian refugee is finally reunited with the kind American stranger who she says changed her life more than two decades ago.
In 1999, Ayda Zugay and her sister Vanja Contino were fleeing the former Yugoslavia, heading to the U.S. to start a new life. On their flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, they sat next to Tracy Peck. Tracy noticed how young and frightened the girls were and was reminded of her own daughters. Before the flight landed, she wrote the girls a note on an envelope and put $100 inside.
Years later, Ayda began trying to find that kind stranger so she could tell her how the gesture changed her life. Around eight years ago, Ayda posted on Reddit in the hope of somehow finding her. Last month, a refugee advocacy organization tweeted about Ayda’s search and CNN picked up the story. Pretty soon people who knew Tracy were connecting the dots.
Just a few days ago, 23 years after a pair of young refugees were shown that kindness, Tracy, Ayda, and Vanya were reunited on a video call. They shared with one another how much the interaction all those years ago meant to one another and how much it meant for them to be able to see each other again. Now the three are planning to meet up in person. Tracy says they may have been strangers when they met on that plane in 1999, but now they are family.