Congolese family feared dead make a ‘miracle’ Irish reunion

A Congolese family, separated when fleeing from a violent conflict at home, have made an emotional reunion in Cork thanks to the efforts of local volunteers.

Benz Tshiania and his wife Rose were separated last year when they escaped violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and both feared that the other was dead. Unknown to Benz, Rose was three weeks pregnant with his son Israel when she arrived in Ireland with their daughter Kinya. Rose arrived in Dublin as an asylum seeker and was redirected to Clonakilty, where Israel was born. Benz was also redirected south from Dublin to a Direct Provision centre in Limerick.

Benz contacted the Restoring Family Links programme, a free service offered by the Irish Red Cross for tracing, messaging and family reunification, in the hope that his wife and daughter might still be alive. Through the efforts of the Clonakilty Red Cross, the family was reunited two weeks ago and Benz met his new son for the first time.

Lar McCarthy, a Red Cross volunteer in Clonakilty, told The Irish Catholic when he and a colleague went to Limerick to collect Benz, they found him waiting for them with nothing but a suitcase and a wedding photograph, after going days without eating.

He said Benz “jumped through the door like a greyhound” when they arrived in Clonakilty, and the couple grabbed each other and fell to the ground. “They must have cried for half an hour,” he said.  

Lar, who joined the Red Cross four years ago, described the reunion of the family as “a miracle”, and stressed the importance of the work of the Family Links Programme. “I just feel really happy about being able to help these people. But it’s not just me, it’s everyone at the Restoring Family Links programme and Clonakilty Red Cross,” he said.