Cyrus: From Strangers to Friends

When he was just a young teen, Cyrus and his parents fled a violent civil war in their home country of Central African Republic. They escaped with their lives to a refugee camp in nearby Chad. 

There Cyrus met Rose, another young refugee. She even spoke the same tribal language as Cyrus. 

Amidst the struggles and uncertainty of life in a refugee camp, Cyrus and Rose got married and started a family. They applied for resettlement to a new country. Not knowing where they’d end up, they just wanted to be together. 

After waiting more than a decade in the refugee camp, they were invited by the U.S. government to resettle legally in Chicago. However, their hearts broke as they had to leave their parents behind in the camp. They came to America, knowing no one. 

The city was overwhelming. The young family had to adapt to a new culture, learn a new language, and eat strange food. Staples they were used to, like cassava flour, were hard to find. 

Exodus introduced the family to Harry and Kathy, New Neighbor volunteers who just happen to speak French, as do Cyrus and Rose. 

When Harry told Cyrus that his work had brought him to both Central African Republic and Chad several times, Cyrus “had a big smile,” Harry recalls. “He was delighted that we had this common ground!”

Harry and Kathy visit the family regularly, answering questions about life in the U.S., helping them to practice their English and to learn their way around Chicago. Their visits together are a huge encouragement to Cyrus and Rose. They’re no longer strangers; they’re friends!

Harry is still amazed that he met a refugee family who not only speak French, but who come from a country that he’s familiar with. “It’s a God thing,” Harry smiled. “He brought us together.”

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