The mother of a Yale senior has reported her daughter missing after she failed to return from South Africa as planned two weeks ago.
Natasha Smalls ’02 was scheduled to fly home to New York Aug. 1 after spending nearly a year at the University of Natal in Durbin, South Africa. But her mother, Glory Smalls, notified Yale officials Wednesday that her daughter had not arrived on the expected flight and had not been heard from since.
University Secretary Linda Lorimer said Yale is making an “aggressive effort” to locate Smalls.
“We immediately, within 24 hours, pursued the matter at the upper levels of the State Department,” Lorimer said. “We were relieved that the State Department already had an active investigation ongoing and were being quite aggressive.”
In addition, Lorimer said Karyn Jones, an assistant director of Yale’s Office of International Education, would make a special trip to the University of Natal as part of an already planned visit to South Africa.
“We hope that the university in South Africa can help us find friends of hers,” Lorimer said.
Smalls received a Fulbright grant to study in South Africa last summer and decided to stay through the spring term, Lorimer said. She remained in the country after the term ended in June, but told her mother July 31 that she was ready to come home.
Glory Smalls, who resides in Far Rockaway, New York, could not be reached for comment this weekend, but she spoke with a reporter from New Haven television station WTNH on Friday.
“I’m trying to work,” she said. “I’m trying to take care of my kids and live day-by-day like it’s normal, but it’s not because my heart hurts.”
State Department officials and representatives of the University of Natal were not available for comment Sunday.
“The mom is like any of us would be who’s a mom: distraught and extremely concerned,” Lorimer said. “One hopes [Smalls] will show up in the next day or two and be doing well.”
YDN Staff Reporter Elyssa Folk contributed to this report.