Over the past couple of years, I’ve blogged a lot in this space over the problems surrounding primary and secondary education in Burundi. Education is only free and compulsory until Grade 6, and even before that, students and their families must provide their own school supplies (notebooks, pens, etc) and many students are forced to drop out, temporarily or permanently, if they can’t buy school supplies. Students who lose financial support (through the death of a parent, the loss of a parent’s job or other family problems) often have to end their studies in Grade 6 or even earlier, almost certainly condemning them to a life of poverty as difficult or worse than their parents’ lives.
I’m transmitting this appeal from a very good friend of mine who almost had to drop out of school herself, and is now spending her free time trying to keep younger kids in school. Please pass it along. No assistance is too small…might I remind you of the parable of the starfish? A $2.29 bag of Bic pens could be the difference…
My name is Marie Nsabimana. I am Burundian and I live in
Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. I am an orphan. I lost both my parents in 1998.
Since secondary school I have dreamed of creating an association for orphaned children. Why?
Since the death of both of my parents in 1998, I was helped by the government which paid school fees for me*, and for school materials I was helped by UNICEF along with other orphans who studied with me. Nevertheless, sometimes we faced challenges. Sometimes it happened that we received our school supplies later than we should have, and we were kicked out by the teacher, who said we were not in order. The teachers knew very well about our situation, but what amazes me most is that they could not help kicking us out. Every time I was sent outside, I thought of the rest of the pupils who were living in the same situation as I was. I missed a lot of quizzes, but, thank God, I finished my secondary school studies in 2008.
After this, the situation changed. I was stressed about being able to continue my studies in university. But with the grace of God a certain woman to whom I had talked about my situation promised to pay my university fees for me, and she has done so from 2008 until today. I am at the end of my studies in the school of communication, with a major in audiovisual communication.
Considering my journey, I could not have achieved my ambitions without the help of others. That is why I will do all I possibly can to help other children grow up and achieve their ambitions. The teachers’ mistreatment of me in secondary school has left in my mind the idea of creating an association which will help orphaned children and other children in difficult situations to get to their dreams.
THE OBJECTIVE OF “A.O.V. KAZOZA” (Association des orphélins vulnerables, Association of Vulnerable Orphans)
The long period of war that our country has experienced has left many orphans and children in difficult situations. The HIV crisis has made matters worse. Today many children in Burundi live in very poor conditions. The word “Kazoza” means “future”. Our goal is to give all of these children and youth a better future.
*Develop a culture of excellence for these vulnerable orphans, through various educational activities and awareness-raising about the importance of staying in school
*Create a support center
*Make the orphans aware of their rights as citizens
*Educate the orphans so they are able to participate in public life
*Create a supportive environment for the orphans through cultural and athletic activities
*Raise orphans’ awareness of the fight against HIV/AIDS and its consequences
*Job creation to combat poverty, specifically among vulnerable orphans
*Fight discrimination against vulnerable orphans
*Encourage mutual assistance
*Reinforce partnerships with other organizations which have the same objectives or which work in the best interest of vulnerable orphans
Buterere I, Bujumbura
+257 79 891974/+257 75 552 884
In this picture, the children you see come from different backgrounds, but the common thing they share is that they live in very poor conditions. Some of them are orphans, others have single parents, but the parents are very poor and unable to provide for their children. However, what hurts most is that some of the children in the picture have said that they have had to leave school because of the lack of school supplies, food or shelter.
Considering the situation that I myself have experienced, I feel very bad when I see what these children are going through. I have hoped to help them but I don’t have the resources. That is why I would like to call on everybody on this planet to put himself or herself in the place of one of these children and do something for them. The children need to have an education, food and shelter. Some of them have spent many days in the street, but what amazes me most is they still aspire to go back to school. In short, that is the purpose of my association. Nearly 100 children have come to us since May 2013.
Of course I will not be able to put all children out of their circumstances, but I will do my best to contribute to helping a certain number of children achieve their ambitions, as I did myself when I was helped by different people.
No support– material, financial, logistical, moral– is too small or too big as we try to help these vulnerable young people stay in school and achieve their goals.
Thank you for your help and understanding.