Born in Kigali, Rwanda |
Beni had to flee from Rwanda to Burundi at the age of 12 because of civil war and genocide. She explains how her family was fortunate enough to get away from the atrocities. Her parents then returned to Kigali while she stayed on in Burundi with her grandparents. In spite of what had taken place, Beni still retains very fond memories of her birth country, describing Rwanda as the “Switzerland of Africa” with its rolling hills covered by tropical forest, clean air, and temperate climate. The people are also beautiful and warm. Beni’s brothers were already at University in Toronto and so her parents thought it would be ideal to have the family together again. Once they were granted documentation, they all came to Canada. Beni explains how her parents selected Canada because of its reputation as a peacekeeping country and “they never looked back on this decision”. The “openness to so many different cultures” and the “acceptance of the “other” here, stand out to Beni. Also appreciated is Toronto’s “great gastronomic culture” that she says is “understated…incredible and delicious,” and finally she enjoys how easy it is to make friends in the city. She’s not sure this would have happened so fast in another place. Currently Beni is working as a lawyer.
Toronto as Home
Beni is standing in the Distillery District’s Mill building. She literally is at home here as this is the location of her condo. Beni has always loved this area because it’s one of the few places in Toronto that feels historic and not quite so modern. The architecture of the area she finds to be inspiring.
Connection with the Past
Beni explains how coffee is an important source of revenue for Rwanda, a country that struggles economically. She says she drinks Rwandan coffee every morning with her husband before going to work. When she comes back from visiting her country of birth, she always brings back some coffee for her friends to enjoy. Drinking Rwandan coffee transports her instantly back to her roots.