Our first Good Samaritan project was to respond to the emergency needs of Burundian refugees seeking safety and security in Rwanda. The recent outbreak of violence and political unrest in Burundi has been well documented in the media, and has caused thousands of Burundians to flee to neighboring countries, including Rwanda.
Amongst these refugees was a group of orphaned children. Their orphanage had been evacuated, as it was located in a neighborhood that had become the epicenter of the violence in the capital city, Bujumbura. The children had been trapped in the orphanage for two weeks, due to the violence and this caused them extreme trauma. The pastor who leads the orphanage, had bravely managed to evacuate all fifty four children, and transport them safely to Rwanda. However, in Rwanda, they faced new challenges, they needed shelter, food, and other basic necessities for survival. In Burundi, they had established a well-functioning orphanage, in a large reasonably equipped building, with a bakery and a little milk shop to generate an income for their needs. They arrived in Rwanda, with next to nothing, and were cut off from their usual income generating activities. While they had escaped the danger and insecurity of Bujumbura, the challenges of survival in Rwanda, for such a large group of children, and their dedicated caregivers, appeared insurmountable.
The children range in age from 2 years to 19 years. Many of the children are orphans of the Gatumba Massacre, which took place on the DR Congo-Burundi border in 2004. While some of the other children were found abandoned beside roads and others lost their parents to varying causes, such as disease and poisoning. In the orphanage the children are divided into five ‘family groups’ each with an ‘Auntie’ who cares for them.
The MSI team was alerted to the plight of the Burundian refugee orphans and their current location by our regional director. The MSI team has visited the orphans on several occasions, each time bringing them much needed supplies, such as; milk, eggs, water filter, water, soaps, rice and maize flour.
On the 21st June 2015, the MSI team in partnership with the Africa International Club (AIC Rwanda) was able to make a very large delivery of supplies to the orphans, the supplies included; several bags of maize flour, rice, sugar, milk powder,
beans, cooking oil, porridge mix and mattresses, blankets and toys.
The children were overjoyed with the supplies, and they celebrated by singing, dancing and offering prayers of thanksgiving.
The Burundians are eager to return to their country, as soon as peace and security returns to Burundi. In the meantime, their struggle to survive in Rwanda continues. Click here to support the Burundian refugee orphans