Wednesday, 26 September 2007
Full story to follow...
Alex Horne - 26th September 2007
I met Berenice with Jim, her Glaswegian future father-in-law, outside a Cafe Nero in Enfield. Neither Jim nor I had ever been to Enfield before.
After her obligatory military service in 1998, Berenice went to university in Burundi's capital Bujumburu. A year and a half into the course the university was closed down on account of the massacres taking place across the country. After being sent to a private university she then joined the socialist party, attended various demonstrations and was eventually jailed for two weeks. At this point her parents became extremely worried about her future and sent her to Europe.
Unfortunately for Berenice, she first went to Belgium, Burundi's former coloniser. 'I didn't like the Burundi community there', she told me. 'They stick so closely together. Many people don't even speak French. I didn't feel comfortable'.
She therefore spent a thousand euros (my old computer doesn't seem to have the symbol for euros), bought some papers ('it was really quite dodgy', she said) and made her way to Calais where the authorities looked at these dodgy papers and sent her right back to Brussels.
A month later she managed to persuade a Burundian friend of hers who'd been born in Belgium to lend her her Belgian passort and tried again. This time it worked. She was waved through and finally found refuge and a fiancee in Glasgow.
She recently finished her teacher training degree at Middlesex University and is applying for British citizenship in December.