It was a hard decision, but for Hedwig Rossow returning to the country where her Bermudian husband, Colin Lee, was murdered was an opportunity to help the community that had embraced the couple. She never thought the journey would end with her finding love again, let alone a new family for her baby daughter, Shekinah.
In November 2005 the couple, who were working for a Scandinavian humanitarian agency helping refugees in Sudan and Uganda, were ambushed and robbed by about 20 rebels as they drove through Sudan. To this day, nobody has been brought to justice for Mr Lee’s murder.
After her husband’s death she travelled back to Bermuda for the birth of her daughter, before returning to her native Paraguay. “It was during this time of grief that I realised God’s love was greater than all my pain,” she said. “Although I never found answers to the loss of Colin, I came to rest and I knew I always loved the community in Africa, so I went back with my daughter.
“Initially we went back to the Acholi people in Uganda, which was where the people responsible for the attack had come from, and we stayed there about two years. Then we moved to Sudan close to the location where the ambush took place. We wanted to be part of the community where we had friends before.”
While in Africa the mother and daughter met another family who were also working with the local community and helping to build a hospital.
They quickly became friends with Matthias and Constinze Rossow and their four children, Deborah, Jonathan, Benjamin and Rebecca, who were also based in Yei, close to Morobo.
Although both families later left Africa, they remained in close contact. In 2012 Constinze Rossow had a terminal illness diagnosed and as her condition got worse she urged her husband, Matthias, and Mrs Lee to become a family after she passed away. She died in Germany in September 2013, and less than a year later the two families moved in together in Germany after the widow and the widower married in Paraguay. “It has been a blessing to both of us,” Mr Rossow said. “The place where my husband died was the last place I could have ever imagined finding someone,” Hedwig Rossow added. “But we are a very happy family today.”
This month, Mr and Mrs Rossow and their five children travelled to Bermuda as a family for the first time. “It was very important for our international family to come here, to get to know each other and love one another,” Mrs Rossow said. “Our roots are very much a part of who we are and it has been good to see the Lee family in Bermuda. “We have been surprised by how welcoming everyone has been to us and we really appreciate it.” Mr Rossow added: “We don’t want Shekinah to lose her roots and we hope to come back again during her childhood. Later she will be able to decide for herself.”
Shekinah, who has been to Bermuda three times before, was also happy to be back in the country of her birth. “It feels good to be here,” she said. “I like the beaches and especially the people.” Over the past two weeks, the Rossow family have spent time with Mr Lee’s Bermudian family, while Mr Lee’s son Christopher and his wife, Tiffany, also travelled to the island from their home in Toronto for the reunion.
Mr Lee’s sister, Gaylhia LeMay, told The Royal Gazette: “It has been really good to see all of them. I am happy for the way it turned out and I have really enjoyed their visit.
“All things have worked together for good.” Christopher Lee added: “We came to meet the Rossow family and of course my sister, Shekinah, for the first time. We also wanted to meet all the Lees in Bermuda and our other friends.”