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SOS Children's Villages began caring for orphans in Burundi in 1977, and following the outbreak of civil war in 1993, launched an emergency aid programme in the Muyinga Province of Burundi, for war orphans. This became the third permanent Children's Village, of four today. … more about our charity work in Burundi

A domestic child labourer now has a bright future

Diane and her SOS siblings enjoy afternoon tea together
Diane and her SOS siblings enjoy afternoon tea together

At just six years old, Diane was left alone. Both her parents had died from malaria. With no-one to care for her, Diane had to work in order to survive. Her future was looking increasingly bleak until her and her sister found a new home at SOS Children’s Village Cibitoke in Burundi.

“I was born into a poor family; my parents were farmers who barely met our needs, we survived on the bare minimum,” said Diane. “When my mother fell sick with malaria, she could not go to a doctor because we had no money; she died in 2004. I was three years old and my little sister, Gloria, was twelve months old. My father struggled to raise us with the little he could get from the farm but there was never enough,” she said.

Her family was on the verge of falling apart. Strained relations between Diane’s father and his family members kept relatives away. No one offered to help the struggling family, until a neighbour stopped by. She was concerned with the living conditions the two young children were growing up in. She offered to temporarily take Diane in. Gloria was placed in a children’s orphanage in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city.

Several years later, Diane’s father also passed away from malaria. Unfortunately, Diane’s neighbour was no longer able to support and care for her. Diane was alone at just 6 years old.

“I felt confused, rejected and with no-where to go,” said Diane. “I looked for work as a domestic help. I moved from family to family looking for a place that resembled the home I had lost; I really suffered.”

A shining light at SOS Children’s Villages

After learning of Diane’s situation, her step-sister reached out to SOS Children’s Village Cibitoke in north-west Burundi, for help. In September 2009, after years of separation, Diane and Gloria were reunited at the Village.

SOS children knitting in Cibitoke, Burundi
Diane and a few of her friends knit together at the Cibitoke Village

“I was so happy Gloria had come back into my life again and because we could live in the same house,” explains Diane.

Diane explains that when she first arrived at the Village, she felt uneasy about her new family. However, it did not take long for her to realise that her SOS family was unlike the people she lived with in the past.

“I like how children are taken care of here in the village; I like how my mother treats me. I have developed a tight bond with her and she always supports me even when I am in a bad mood,” said Diane. “I like reading, and now that I have a chance to go to school.”

Diane speaks three languages. She is fluent in French - Burundi’s official language, Kirundi and English. When she is not practising her English vocabulary, she listens to music and knits.

“I listen to music on the radio, I especially like traditional Burundian songs; I am a member of the traditional song club here in the village,” said Diane. “Apart from that, I am knitting a table cloth for the house and sweaters for my brothers and sisters.”

SOS Children has been supporting vulnerable children in Burundi since 1977. Learn how you can give love to children like Diane. 

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