Burundians lives matter

by Gretta-olivia on Mai 9, 2016 - 11:58pm

Name: Gretta-Olivia Ineza

 

                                            Burundians lives matter

 

During the semester, the majority of my posts on new activism were about the accurate situation in Burundi, my native country, which is located in East Africa.

Since April 26th 2015, Burundi is in a political crisis due to the violation of the constitution by “president Pierre Nkurunziza. The country’s constitution stipulates that each elected president is allowed to have only two terms. Unfortunately, Nkurunziza violated the law by forcing a third term amid the disapproval from the majority of the population. Independent media have been burned, torture and killings have been inflicted on innocent people and those against Nkurunziza government, and many activists as well as civil society leaders have fled into exile[1]. The UNHCR now records 261,57 refugees from Burundi (The country is very small with an estimated density of the population of 11,178,92 in 2015)[2]. Despite increasing opposition from the African Union, and the international community over his illegal term and his violations of human rights, Pierre Nkurunziza have not stopped his bloody power.

 

As a Burundian I found this really sad because my compatriots are dying every day and sadly, I cannot do anything to stop that. Since the re-election of Pierre, more than 500 innocent people have been killed[3]. I feel powerless, but I must admit that talking about it throughout this semester helped me a lot. My classmates and professors know at least what is going on in my native country, and they can choose to help like they can as I did. In fact, I decided to join a group of women that collects clothes and different articles (such as pads for menstruation, mattresses, brush tooth, etc.) for Burundians refugees in Rwanda. I found their initiative simply amazing because people in refugee camps live in hard conditions.

This group of women have not yet a name and does not constitute an organization yet. Denise Kararuza is the initiator of that noble cause. She first asked her friends from Montreal if they wanted to join her and fortunately, many people supported her. She started in December 2015 by first asking a donation but the Burundian community in Montreal was not really supportive because they did not know if the money will actually go in Burundi. They were suspicious as the group of women was not recognized as an organization. Then, Denise and her friends decided to change their approach and began to collect different articles and clothes.

 I choose to volunteer simply because it is a good cause for my country and a way to show my support. The work merely consisted of separating clothes either for women, children and men in different bags. They have rented a place in a warehouse in order to put all the materials received there. As it is a small place, only four people can go there at a time.  Indeed, as they are doing a worthy project, they have asked the government of Canada if they could become an organization. Their demand is still in process and they are waiting impatiently. They have already send an important amount of materials in refugees’ camp in Rwanda and they want to eventually start sending things in other camps such as the ones in Tanzania and Ouganda. As they do not have enough budget to do so, they are planning of organizing diverse activities during this summer in order to collect the needed money.  They are wishing of receiving plenty of support. I hope for the best and keep hoping for a better country. Furthermore, Denise has spoken to Marguerite Barankitse when she was in Quebec lately and this one have found this project amazing. She will be in charge of distributing the clothes if they make it through. I was about to contact her in order to let her know about this group but when they told me that she was already aware, I was really happy.   

 

Marguerite Barankitse[4] is recognized of being the national mother of Burundi and Burundians call her Maggy. She is a woman with a big heart and a lot of compassion. Since long time ago, she fights for a better country and helped various children’s in help. Her ultimate goal is to educate a new generation of Burundians who loves each other without ethnic barriers. She will always protect her children’s as her mom taught her when she was young. In 1993, Marguerite created a nongovernmental organization called the house of shalom, which means the house of peace located in Burundi, Rwanda and in Democratic of Congo. Marguerite won various awards from everywhere in the world such as the Nobel Prize for children, the prize for solidarity, and another one two weeks ago, the aurora prize etc. Plus, she is now traveling in many countries for screaming for help, letting know everybody about the cruel act from president Nkurunziza. Unfortunately, she is in exile for the moment and the government of Burundi has closed her hospital and her camp refugees in Burundi. 

 

Blogging about the crisis in Burundi during the semester helped me to learn a lot of new things I did not know about my country. I have discovered and met amazing people, learned about myself, the politic of Burundi, and Africa in general.  I can sincerely say that I am proud to be Burundian despite its actual poverty. This experience helped me to keep faith for a better future, it made me realise that small actions can make big differences and that unity is needed if we need to impact. Denise could not bring her project to fruition without the help of people who trusted her and donated.

In the future, I think of continuing volunteering for this group and probably help for the activities this summer. I really hope that they will get the right of being an organization and finally, have a name.

 

If you are interested in helping or want to bring some clothes that you are not wearing anymore, they still gather them. Let a comment below or if you have any questions it will be my pleasure to answer you.