Leila Liliane Juma was 16 years old when her family home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was destroyed by rebel soldiers. In this gut-wretching memoir, she gives an account of her life before
Leila Liliane Juma was 16 years old when her family home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was destroyed by rebel soldiers. In this gut-wretching memoir, she gives an account of her life before and after her family was torn apart by the twin nightmares of civil war and invasion. Sincere and revealing, it gives a moving account of a young girl's journey from a protected and secure family life, through a series of brutal conflicts that saw her father murdered and her former life utterly destroyed.
Maison Rouge is a story of war, and unspeakable loss. It is also the story of survival. Eventually, through the United Nations refugee program, Leila and her family were finally able to relocate to Canada.
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Leila Liliane Juma
grew up in Uvira, a city in the western Congo on the shore of Lake Tanganyika near the border with Burundi. Her life as a young girl was brutally disrupted by the wars in Burundi (1993), Rwanda (1994), and the Congo (1994-1997), finally forcing her family to flee to Tanzania. After some time in a refugee protection camp, Leila, her Maman, and her sisters and brothers immigrated to Canada. Leila now lives in Vancouver, where she works as a Women's Support Worker. She is fluent in three languages; Swahili, French, and English.
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"This memoir draws readers in, causing us to love the people she loved and rage at the ones who hurt her. There cannot be too many stories of the lives of displaced people in today's world, and this one both blends in with and stands apart from this growing body of work."
"Juma's book ought to be required reading for Canadian secondary school students. They would find its brevity and clarity "user friendly." Their teachers would need to guide them though it well to derive all the benefits it has to offer. Young Canadians would need to understand that the terrifying collapse of young Leila's world is not something that happened only in the time and place she describes. This is what war always does to civilians, all over the world. . .
"Leila's book can offer Canadian students a precious lesson in heroism. Our children and grandchildren need to know about people like Juma's dad, who stood up for people in need before the soldiers took him away forever, or the fishboat captain who got them across the great lake to safety against the odds, or Juma herself and her mother and the millions like them who waste years in squalid refugee camps looking for ways to rebuild their lives while trying to cope with the trauma they drove them there.
"Our kids also need to know why some Canadians call for our country to do more, not less, to help these victims and welcome more of them to our country. We need to ensure that young Canadians understand why it's important to learn from heroes like the ones Juma describes, and to take a stand against the rising global tide of xenophobic hatred and fear being stoked by cynical demagogues like Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi, and Orban, and by those Canadians who align themselves with them. Juma's book could make a valuable contribution to this kind of education."
— The Ormsby Review