On Tuesday night, after an 18-month-long mission, 22-year-old Suzi Makurriel and her 3 children were finally reunited with her mother and siblings, after over ten hopeless years of living apart.

It all started in the early 1980s. Operation Moses brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, with the new immigrants trekking through Sudan. About 4,000 died on the way, and another 88 went missing.

One of the missing people, a 14-year-old girl named Tuwavich Berko ended up in a Sudanese prison. She was sold into a forced marriage, and when her two eldest daughters reached the age of 12, they were married off to older men of the local tribe.

Three years ago, Aish Kodesh resident Aaron Katsof bumped into Berko on one of his missions in Ethiopia, and when he heard the story and understood that there was no one in the world who would help them, he swore to do everything he could to rescue the girls.

After three months of searching, Katsof found them living apart from their husbands, each with 3 of their own children, each in different parts of South Sudan.

The mother and one of her daughters arrived in Israel in April, and lived with Katsof 's family. Suzy, who had returned to South Sudan to bring her children, was left behind, Israel Hayom noted.

"At the end of June I managed to meet the requirements of South Sudan's Interior Ministry, and with the aid of the ambassadors, I managed to bring them to Ethiopia," he told the site. "They waited about forty days, most of those because Suzy fell ill with malaria."

"Operation Left Behind" took off and after months of traveling through South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, 18-hour-long bus rides, private planes, embassies and ambassadors, malaria, and endless amount of bureaucracy, the second and last sister finally landed last night in Ben-Gurion Airport and re-united with the rest of her family.

The project cost a total of 120,000 NIS ($34,025), approximately a third of which Katsof himself paid, Israel Hayom noted. "After a year and a half of hard work, we reached this amazing moment. I have tears in my eyes," he said.

Free at last
Free at lastNeomi Tsuf