I abandoned everything from one day to the next. My family and
I left Rwanda on 13 July 1994. Four to five million people were fleeing the
We lost our country, but we had the luck to find a new one.
Remarks recorded during an interview.
Born in Rwanda, Perpétue Muramutse studied in Belgium to be a teacher
before returning to Rwanda. Sensitive to the precarious living conditions of
her community, she reoriented her career towards socio-economic development,
working for the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and CARE.
She left Rwanda in 1994 because of the war. In the refugee camps in Zaire,
she was responsible for the family-reunification programme within
UNICEF. "Refugee camps are places where human beings find themselves
a situation of total distress."
Perpétue arrived in Montreal in November 1997. Each member of her
family arrived separately. "When you're a refugee, you don't have the
means to say, 'We're paying for the trip and then we're leaving.' It's run for
your life." The first two years of exile were very difficult.
"On arriving in Canada, all I had for baggage were family photos, and
the only people I knew were my three children. I felt completely impoverished.
For the first time in my life, I found myself in a difficult situation without
seeing any way to get out of it."
Her commitment to community organizations eased her integration.
"What helped me regain hope was the human side of certain
organizations. It was there that all my potential awoke. That encouraged me to
carry on, to take my life in hand again, and this was like a springboard
towards other professional adventures."
Since 1999, she has led workshops for the city of Montreal, introducing
parents and children to the pleasures of reading.
Writing is a passion that Perpétue has always nurtured. In Rwanda,
she had already written and published children's books. "African
children don't have the money or the means to travel in their own country.
Through my books, I was giving them a tour!" Today a member of
Solidarité Femmes Africaines and its coordinator, Perpetué
is the author of a play and discussion forum on racial discrimination entitled
The Sun Forgets No Village. " ... whatever we do, the sun
everyone. It cannot be corrupted in any way whatsoever. In Canada, each citizen
has the right to their place, and the duty to assume it."