SOS Children in Burundi
Our charity began working in Burundi in 1976. Since then, years of armed conflict have left many children without family and psychologically scarred. We work to give children in Burundi who need help a loving family and home in one of our SOS Children’s Villages.
With SOS Children, you can help orphaned and abandoned children in Burundi by sponsoring a child:
Getting back on track after years of violence
Around 84% of people in Burundi are poor, making it one of Africa’s poorest nations. Years of civil war have undoubtedly contributed, as hundreds of thousands of people died and over a million left internally displaced. In rural areas, people are facing particular hardship. Droughts and other disasters lead to frequent food shortages. Around 50% of Burundi’s population cannot read and write, owing to the country’s poor education system. Around 180,000 people live with HIV/AIDS. Deaths from diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and hepatitis A are on the rise. Burundi has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, as the average Burundian woman gives birth to six children.
Children in Burundi
- In Burundi, around 610,000 children are orphans. Alongside those orphaned by AIDS, more have been orphaned because of the economic situation, as families struggle to get by.
- Street children roam the streets of Burundi with many resorting to begging to survive. About a quarter of children are involved in labour activities.
- During the civil war, thousands of children were recruited as child soldiers by armed rebels. Young girls were also abducted into slavery. Psychological scars still stay with many who survived.
- 35% of Burundian children are undernourished and around 90,000 children live with HIV/AIDS, as the disease is passed on by mothers during pregnancy.
Our charity work in Burundi
We began working in Burundi in 1977 when a village was built in Gitega, the country's third largest town. SOS Children's Village Gitega has thirteen family houses and three youth houses where teenagers can take their first guided steps towards independent lives. There is a nursery school and a primary school which children from the surrounding area also attend. A small farm and vegetable garden provide food for the families in the village. A family strengthening programme was set up in 2004 and can help up to 500 children in the community. After that, an SOS Medical Centre was added in 2008 and can care for up to 12,200 patients a year.
In 1985, we opened a community in the Nyakabiga district of the capital, Bujumbura, at the north-eastern end of Lake Tanganyika. It has thirteen family houses and eleven youth houses, altogether home to over 260 children and young people. Like Gitega, it has a nursery, primary and secondary school - attended by children from the local community as well as families in the SOS village. A clinic was opened in 1992 providing general medical care for up to 22,000 people a year.
Following the outbreak of civil war in 1993, SOS Children launched an emergency aid programme in Muyinga Province, building a temporary home for children orphaned in the conflict. This emergency project was transformed in 1998 into a permanent SOS Children's Village. SOS Children's Village Muyinga, with its fifteen family houses and five SOS Youth Homes, is just outside the town on the top of a hill called Mukoni. A few farms have been established in the area and there is a market, a hospital and a secondary school in Muyinga. Alongside the village, SOS have built a nursery and a primary school which serve the needs of the neighbourhood as well as the SOS families. There has also been a family strengthening programme running since 2004, providing community care for over 400 children.
The fourth SOS Children’s Village opened in 2005 in Rutana in the central southern region of the country. There are 14 family houses for 140 children. In addition there is a nursery for 75 children in three classes and a primary school for 210 children in six classes. There is a SOS Social Centre that each month supports over 300 vulnerable children from the local communities whose families have been affected by HIV/AIDS. There is also an SOS Medical Centre that treats up to 500 patients each month.
Opened in 2009, SOS Children's Village Cibitoke provides a home for up to 120 children in twelve family houses. An SOS Nursery and SOS School educate about 300 children and an SOS Medical Centre can provide medical care to up to 12,000 people per year.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Burundi: First steps at school
Jacques was admitted at SOS Children's Village Bujumbura on 1 September 2009, after the death of his mother while giving birth to his younger sister who was also admitted to the village. The two children were welcomed in a loving family where they found a committed SOS mother as well as warm-hearted brothers and sisters. On 7 September when schools reopened in Burundi, Jacques, who was already three years and a half old, made his first steps at the nursery. Our colleague in Burundi followed him and forwarded us echoes of his first school day:
Jacques arrived at school accompanied by his SOS mother. He did not feel greatly surprised. He was calm, and observed the environment for a long time before he began to play with the other children.
The most difficult moment arose when all the pupils have been asked to enter the classrooms. Jacques began to cry because he did not want to enter the class without his mother. He was afraid that his mother would leave him at school and he wanted to go back home with her. This small moment of separation was not easy for his mother too, as the child kept asking for her. On her way back home, Jacques' mother felt a loss after being separated from her son. But, she was obliged to leave her son at school as he was beginning a new era of his life.
Jacques said he now loves going to school because there he finds children of his age. He goes to school to play with his friends and classmates. He is happy to go to school every day.
*name has been changed to protect privacy
SOS Villages d'Enfants Burundi
Tel: +257/22 238168, +257/22 220887, +257/22 223622
Fax: +257/22 211060