The Republic of Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries and has a population of more than 10 million people. Along with facing important social challenges, the country is still recovering from a 12-year civil war.
We have been present in the capital, Bujumbura, since 1985, supporting the most vulnerable members of society; in particular, families and children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Burundi is making a slow recovery after years of war
Bujumbura is the capital city of Burundi with a population of approximately 800,000. It is located on the north eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika and is the country’s main port, shipping exports of coffee, cotton, skins and tin ore.
The United Nations Development Index ranks Burundi 185th out of 187 for metrics such as income, education and health. This makes Burundi one of the world's least-developed countries. Around 80% of the population live in poverty.
According to the World Food Programme, well over half of all children are chronically malnourished. As well as such social ills, conflict has also blighted Burundi's recent history. 2009 saw an end to the nation's 12-year civil war, but today's peace is fragile and violence continues. Sadly, an entire generation of Burundian children are growing up in an unstable and potentially violent environment.
Families affected by HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS is also a serious concern in Bujumbura. It is estimated that one in 15 adults is living with HIV/AIDS, and the result is many families in need, and many more unable to care for their children. In Bujumbura there are thousands of children living on the streets, each day facing the risks of drug taking, violence and sexual exploitation. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is also high among children in the city.
In spite of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, education on preventing infection is limited and religious leaders continue to oppose the use of condoms, associating them with adultery and debauchery. Encouragingly, slow progress is being made, and the Burundi Second Multisectoral HIV/AIDS Project had success when it was implemented from 2008-2011. Antiretroviral treatment is available but it is thought that only 57% of affected women receive treatment, and just 11% of pregnant HIV-positive women are treated to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Providing families with access to basic essential services
In co-operation with local Bujumbura authorities, SOS Children’s Villages established a presence in Bujumbura in 1985 in response to the rapidly increasing number of children living in abject poverty and severely affected by the ongoing ethnic conflict.
In 2004, we introduced our family-strengthening programme to vulnerable families in the city, supporting parents by providing guidance in parenting and income generating skills, giving them the confidence to continue caring and providing for their children. We also offer counselling and psychological support to children and carers and in particular, families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Our main mission is to ensure that local children have access to basic essential amenities such as health and nutrition services and medical treatment, as well as educational opportunities.
The SOS medical centre in Bujumbura provides basic preventative healthcare, check ups and operations to around 22,000 patients from the local community each year, the majority of whom would not otherwise be able to afford medical services.
Our work in Bujumbura
Our SOS families provide a stable, loving home for well over 100 children who cannot live with their parents. Along with their SOS siblings, these children grow up under the care of an SOS mother.
About 150 children from the Village and surrounding community begin their education at the SOS nursery in Bujumbura, allowing them to begin to integrate from an early age. More than 1,000 students attend the SOS Primary and Secondary Schools in Bujumbura making them important educational facilities in the region.
The SOS youth programme provides a secure introduction to adult life. As children approach adulthood, they move out of their SOS family into shared accommodation at the SOS youth home. Along with others their own age, these children continue education or vocational training. Under the guidance of a counsellor, they learn to shoulder the responsibilities of adult life, and soon they are ready for independence.
Vulnerable children in Bujumbara need your support today. Sponsor a child, and let them know that you care.