After being separated from her daughter for over a year, Orange Walk resident Raquel Cocom returned to Belize with week with her three-year-old daughter, Vera Timofeev.
Cocom returned on Tuesday, after traveling to South Carolina, USA, to retrieve her daughter from her ex-common law husband Andre Timofeev, who had held the child in the US without Cocom’s permission.
“I’m so excited that I have my daughter back. I’d like to thank everyone for their prayers and all their support,” Cocom said. “She recognized me, she’s always calling me mama. It’s brought me so much joy I just can’t explain.”
Cocom said that she intends to open her own business, to ensure that she provides for her daughter.
In November 2017 Timofeev said that he would take the child for a two-week vacation in the US and never returned. Desperate, Cocom sought the help of Victim’s Rights Advocate Elisa Castellanos, who was instrumental in setting up a legal battle to get the child back through the Hague Child Abduction Convention.
Castellanos explained that she had to do the majority of ground work, legal research and liaising with attorneys in the United States, to be able to secure the win and bring the child back home. Castellanos, the founder of Tikkun Olam Belize, an organization that deals primarily with advocating for the rights of commercial sex workers, said that she had to source almost all the funding for the venture either through soliciting sponsors, pawning her own jewelry or through the proceeds of sex work.
Following the victory in Court on January 2, the Ministry of Human Development also got involved and provided the funds for Cocom to travel to the US.