At Bujumbura, the YFUW continue their activities started last year. They dedicate themselves to helping the refugees. In this context, they went to the Refugee Camp of Maramvya. Their aim was to unite with the YFUW from all over the world during the “United World Week” and to prepare for the Genfest 2012.
We took with us a great Communion of Goods that was put together from the community: fruit juice, doughnuts for the children and clothing.
56 YFUW from High Schools and Universities participated in this activity.
We had a very warm welcome, with explosions of joy from the children who greeted us with songs and games. Then we divided them into groups according to their age, their class and those who do not study. These meetings were occasions for dialogue and so helped us better understand their difficulties and ways in which we could help them.
- Lack of food for everyone. Many said that they eat only once a day when they don’t go to school.
- It is a long journey to arrive at school and often they have accidents.
- Taking into account the school results, we saw that some of them need help to revise the lessons because they are at a very low level.
- They all follow their dreams: one to become a priest, another to be a minister, another a nun...
- The secondary students who can’t pay their school fees are expelled. Furthermore, especially at the beginning, they don’t have money to pay for evening courses, uniforms, candles for studying at night or school books and pencils.
If someone is willing to help them to catch up with a lesson, they are ready to study during the weekends.
- Some of the young people don’t study. They don’t have the financial means to do so. They would like to learn a trade. For various reasons some of them don’t go to school anymore even if they are of a school age. For example, one of them from Muyinga after having lost his mum and then having fought with his step-mother needed to escape. Now he is the cook for the police and has a place to stay at the refugee camp. He would be happy to return to school but it’s not possible because he has to support himself.
- The adults have raised other problems:
A (catholic) man spoke of the lack of prayer. In fact, there is just one tent for the Protestants and so everyone, especially the children, go to pray with the protestants even if they are catholic. Others prefer not to go until there is a Catholic Church. They don’t receive any of the sacraments and so there are many illegal marriages and unregistered babies. Not being registered at birth means that they are then not permitted to enrol into the schools even if they are of school age.
PROPOSALS from the Adults:
- Distribution of food, school uniforms and candles for the students
- Revision courses, school fees paid and a school to be built close to the camp for secondary school aged children
- Professional formation as dressmakers, mechanics, drivers, welders, hairdressers… for the youth that don’t study, including courses to learn to read and write.
- Construction of a place of Catholic worship, and distribution of food for their children.
After this profound exchange the YFUW shared what they had brought with them. There was an extraordinary atmosphere, everyone was happy.
The YFUW proposed concrete activities that they could start straight away. We saw that it was impossible to respond to all the requests, but that we could give what we had.
The YFUW committed themselves to helping with the revision courses in view of the upcoming exams, always continuing to search for solutions to the other problems that arose.
- Mathematics in the 4th and 5th elementary classes: Donatien and Liévin ; NGABIRANO and Isaac of INSP (Tel. 79 876 875)
- French in the 4th and 5th elementary classes: Claude from Mayoya, Fabrice from the University of Lake Tanganyika. (Tel. 79 414 848) and Lambert.
We have given the responsibility of these activities to Claude who will go there on Saturday to make an appointment with the other children for Sunday.
- Prepare a meeting of awareness for the parents with the aim of having them register their children, and trying to understand first of all why they haven’t done so. Two YFUW have offered: Évelyne, a psychology student, and Isaac, a student at the National Institute of Public Health.
- Regarding the Sunday prayer which is a great necessity, we can’t respond directly to this problem. We will go to the Parish Priest of Kiname to see if he can take this situation in hand.
- We haven’t yet found a solution for those who wish to learn a trade, even though we are aware of the urgency of the situation, but we really want to help them.
We feel that we need to stop and work out how we can actually do something concretely and find ways to take the activities ahead.
The time has come to speak with CASOBU, the organisation of the focolare community in Burundi, who are specialised in the implementation of projects, and to see how we can work together with them.