Congo family hopes to reunite in Newfoundland and Labrador

Children of woman in Zimbabwe refugee camp did not know if she was dead or alive

Published on April 10, 2012

For a number of years, they did not know if she was dead or alive. Now, two siblings who came to Newfoundland from Africa in 2009 as refugees want to reunite with their mother, but to do so they will require help.

Angelique Mukuye and her brother Pascal Mukuye know how hard it is to live in a refugee camp. Originally from the southern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, they were forced to flee the country due to civil unrest and violence.

“We left our country after civil wars, killings, kidnappings and insecurity,” said Pascal Mukuye.

‘Thank God she is alive’

“There is stilling killing there now.”

Angelique had been attacked shortly before leaving her homeland along with her three children and Pascal. They arrived at the refugee camp in Zimbabwe in 2006 and stayed for three years. Angelique was attacked again while staying in the camp before they gained entry to Canada.

Pascal and Angelique were separated from their mother, Salima Madeleine, during the civil war in 2005, and knew nothing of her whereabouts while staying in the refugee camp and moving to St. John’s.

“We thought maybe she was dead, but thank God she is alive,” said Pascal.

Pascal Mukuye said his mother, who turns 62 this year, learned members of the Mukuye family had previously spent time at the refugee camp in Zimbabwe. She contacted her children in December 2010, a short while after arriving at the same refugee camp her children spent three years living in.

“We just want her to come here and live with us,” said Pascal.

According to Tina Rowe, an English as a Second Language teacher who has taught two of Angelique’s children, the Mukuyes need to have a household income of at least $55,000 in order to sponsor Madeleine’s entry into Canada.

Pascal and Angelique are employed full-time and part-time respectively, and Angelique’s eldest daughter Micheline Ngakunzi is working part-time while completing her last year of high school, but their combined income does not meet the required target.

The only other option for reuniting the Mukuyes with their mother is for five sponsors to come forward and agree to help Salima Madeleine settle in Canada. Rowe, who has experience helping refugees come to Newfoundland and Labrador, has already agreed to serve as a sponsor.

“I can’t do it individually. We need a bigger support system than just one.”

Rowe said financially, the Mukuyes expect they can look after Madeleine once she arrives to St. John’s. Once five sponsors are found, Rowe said it could take another two years before everything is in place to bring her to Canada.

The Mukuyes have been sending money back to Zimbabwe periodically to help their mother. People in the refugee camp live on rations and there is a risk of contracting disease in such a densely populated place.

Memories also linger for the Mukuyes of the attack on Angelique while they stayed at the refugee camp. Pascal said it is stressful for the family to think about their mother’s life in Zimbabwe.

Rowe said anyone interested in learning more about the plight of the Mukuye family can contact her by e-mail at or by calling 747-6244.

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