Today, 20 June, is World Refugee Day, a day to reflect on the challenges faced by refugees around the world, and the courage they show in overcoming them.
Brigitte is just one of the estimated over 50 million refugees fleeing persecution.
I am from Rwanda and when I was 14 years old, I was captured during the genocide and repeatedly raped. My father was killed and since then I have fled from country to country for safety, travelling from Rwanda to Congo to Zambia to Malawi and then back to Rwanda.
I wasn’t safe in any of those places. I lived in refugee camps in Congo, Zambia and then Malawi, and in each country I was assaulted and raped and had to leave. I felt I had no choice but to go back to Rwanda – there I found no safety and the government persecuted me.
When I eventually arrived in Australia I got a lawyer through a government program (IAAAS). I was told that these lawyers had a lot of experience with refugees. I was diagnosed with HIV when I went for the visa medical examinations, and this made me even more scared. I told my lawyer that I was HIV positive, she told immigration about my HIV status but didn’t say anything else about it…
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[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]