Out of Africa: Justin Beradje finds safety for his family - New York News

Out of Africa: Justin Beradje finds safety for his family

Updated:
By Laura Seitz, Deseret News. Justin Beradje is from the Central African Republic. By Laura Seitz, Deseret News. Justin Beradje is from the Central African Republic.

By: Morgan Jacobsen, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY - Violence was storming in the streets of the Central African Republic, and Justin Beradje's wife and children were nowhere to be found.

Beradje, 44, had gone to work in another town that morning in 2003. He later returned to find an ongoing skirmish in the streets and his home vacated. Many of his neighbors had fled the village to find refuge in the bush.

The same horrific scene was unfolding in other parts of the country. Militias loyal to Ange-Félix Patassé, the country's president at the time, were seeking retaliation against a coup led by Gen. François Bozizé that tried to overthrow Patassé's administration.

"Both of these guys, if they find you, they can kill you if they find out you support the other guy," Beradje recalled.

Beradje left the village and headed west to Cameroon, not knowing whether he would ever see his family again.

Months later, he met a man from Douala, a city in western Cameroon. The two conversed, and Beradje said he was returning to his village to search for his wife, whom he knew was struggling to care for their son who had hydrocephalus. The man told Beradje of a refugee group that had gone to Douala and that a boy with hydrocephalus, named Eugene, was with them.

Eugene was Beradje's son.

Beradje went to Douala and was overjoyed upon finding his family after a search that lasted a year and a half.

"I love my family. I love my son," he said. "I cannot leave them."

After several attempts to leave Africa, the family received authorization to come to the U.S. in 2009. Beradje knew his life would never be the same.

"Since I've been here, my life has changed," he said. "I'm so happy."

Beradje says he's most grateful for the opportunities of education and health care now available to his children - opportunities he seldom had as a child.

The transition from speaking French to speaking English has been rough. Beradje would often carry a French-English dictionary with him wherever he went, but the book could not ease the loneliness that comes with broken communication.

"I don't (know) anybody (from) my country in Salt Lake City," Beradje said. "So I'm here by myself."

Loneliness suddenly turned into frenzy one day when Beradje's wife got sick. The two struggled as they went from bus to bus, trying to negotiate their way to a hospital. After exchanging basic words and signs with multiple bus drivers, Beradje finally was able to find medical help for his wife.

Some challenges have been less controllable than others.

"You don't have winter in Africa," Beradje said. "Here, there's winter, and it's so cold."

But Beradje says his family has learned to conquer one thing at a time. His children attend school, his wife is learning to read and write, and he was able to obtain a job at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Saturday's oath of citizenship marked one of his greatest achievements, he said.

"It's a very big accomplishment for me," he said.

Beradje says he wanted to become a U.S. citizen because of the peace that he feels in a land where there is respect for the law.

"There was no peace in my country. And here, my life is safe. I have a good place for my family to live," he said. "It's a pleasure for me to become a citizen."


Original Post

Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Congressman's ad includes Soviet medals

    Congressman's ad includes Soviet medals

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:38 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:38:06 GMT
    A New Jersey congressman's office is red-faced after a Facebook ad about veteran benefits that appeared to feature Russian military medals.
    A New Jersey congressman's office is red-faced over a Facebook ad about veteran benefits that featured Soviet military medals. Rep. Scott Garrett's spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that the office was sorry an initial review did not catch the use of the stock photo. Maggie Seidel says the ad was produced by an outside vendor and is no longer running. The ad asked people to like Garrett's page to learn what he's doing to support veterans' benefits.
  • Torture video leads to kidnapping convictions

    Torture video leads to kidnapping convictions

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:00:26 GMT
    A jury shown the videotaped torture of a kidnapping victim has convicted the two men who held a man captive for 17 hours at a Buffalo home because they thought he was a police informant. Authorities say the two men kidnapped a 25-year-old crack addict they accused of being a snitch. Video from Dawson's cellphone shows a gun being shoved into the victim's mouth and the victim being forced to lick his own blood off the boot of a captor.
    A jury shown the videotaped torture of a kidnapping victim has convicted the two men who held a man captive for 17 hours at a Buffalo home because they thought he was a police informant. Authorities say the two men kidnapped a 25-year-old crack addict they accused of being a snitch. Video from Dawson's cellphone shows a gun being shoved into the victim's mouth and the victim being forced to lick his own blood off the boot of a captor.
  • 17,000 red light camera tickets dismissed

    17,000 red light camera tickets dismissed

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:39 AM EDT2014-08-22 11:39:23 GMT
    A technical glitch in a red light camera operating system means that some 17,000 motorists in New Jersey will not have to pay a fine for running red lights. Computer problems between May 28 and June 30 resulted in motorists not receiving notices of violations. New Jersey law requires that if a ticket hasn't been served within 90 days, it must be dismissed.
    A technical glitch in a red light camera operating system means that some 17,000 motorists in New Jersey will not have to pay a fine for running red lights. Computer problems between May 28 and June 30 resulted in motorists not receiving notices of violations. New Jersey law requires that if a ticket hasn't been served within 90 days, it must be dismissed.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices