During 20 long, exhausting months in the clutches of Somali pirates Debbie Calitz often wondered whether she’d ever see her children again.
It was only the hope of a happy reunion that kept the 49-year-old mother and grandmother going through those dark days. Now, just days after she and her life partner, Bruno Pelizzari (53), were freed in Somalia, that happy day has finally arrived – and three of her children are in Rome to be with their mom.
Jackie Coulson (26) flew in from Scotland, while YOU’s Danél Blaauw travelled with Debbie’s two youngest children, Jason (23) and Kerri-Ann Cross (21) of Pretoria, to Rome for the happy reunion.
Their reunion released a floodgate of emotions in everyone, Jackie says. “We were all laughing and crying at the same time.”
Bruno just stood there looking her up and down. “He was grinning from ear to ear. Then he gave me a hug. We sat down and just kept hugging.”
Read Danél Blaauw's article in YOU 5 July 2012.
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Here's an exclusive interview with Sam de Jesus, Debbie's daughter, during October 2011.