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Fiji Time: 2:29 AM on Thursday 17 April

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Family hunt ends

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, December 13, 2012

AS a young girl, Makelesi Salele often wondered about her father.

She was told he was an American soldier and often wondered if he would ever return.

Almost seven decades later this week, the now 69-year-old matriarch's dream was partially fulfilled when she met 60- year-old Cody Williams, her half brother from Arizona in the US.

For Mr Williams, the hunt for his Fijian family began many years ago and a chance stopover while enroute to New Zealand to join a circus, resulted in an emotional family reunion.

"As soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew she was my sister. She has so many of my dad, Albert Sipp's features and Matawalu Village was situated in an area that dad had described to me as a youngster," he said.

Mr Williams travelled to Matawalu, just outside Lautoka, after a search in Vanua Levu revealed clues to the possibility that his family could be located there.

Ms Salele said while she would have loved to have been reunited with her father while he was alive, meeting her brother was a moment she would always treasure.

"It's been so long and God has blessed me to be able to meet my brother and for him to meet his Fijian family," the almost septuagenarian shared.

Mr Williams returns to the US later this month but has already made plans for a return trip next year.

"It's been an amazing journey and it feels good to be part of such a big family.

"I now have 16 more grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren."