Baskets build bridges in Burundi

Conflict in Burundi between Tutsi and Hutu killed 300,000 people, and forced families from their homes as refugees. Our Lutheran program is helping heal war’s wounds, as widow Madeleine Kabajije shares…

“When the war came we ran away to Tanzania. My husband came back to look for food for us, but he was killed by the armed forces.

My children were so sad, and lost hope. I did everything I can to lift their spirits.

We returned in 2005, but because I am poor it is not possible to cover the needs for my children. I prayed to the Lord, and I stayed with my children. This is where I gained my strength.

Now I have goats, and I have learnt basket-weaving. This can give me extra income.”

Madeleine is one of 24 women in this group of basket-weavers, brought together by the Lutheran team. The group meets together every Friday to work on their baskets, review what has been woven in the week, and check stores of raw materials. Each day, 3 or 4 women get together to weave. It takes about 3 weeks to finish a complete Burundi basket. It sells for around $7.

Madeleine says: “I am hopeful for the future. I have now started a normal life again, and I can feed my children. With basket-weaving and goats, I can make a better future.”

Action Idea:
You can help a whole community in Burundi with a Pig Farm! Pigs can produce a litter of 10+ piglets, so the farm can expand quickly and efficiently.
Pig Farm - $541

Country: Burundi

Where: Cankuzo and Ruyigi Provinces

What: Community Empowerment Program 

Direct beneficiaries: 6,777 people

Indirect beneficiaries: 29,804 people

Funding 2015/16: $415,000 

Focus of CEP:

  • To enable vulnerable people and their leaders to realise their own potential in creating change and improvement. 
  • To aid communities in the transition between receiving relief and aid to building capacity and empowerment.
  • CEP trains leaders and empowers vulnerable people as well as providing material and technical support to the community.
  • CEP aims to empower communities to take charge of their own development by creating more active citizens and more transparent and competent leaders, increasing the sustainability of livelihoods of marginalised people, and reducing the structural barriers that inhibit effect participation in governance and the realisation of human rights. 
  • Empowerment Curriculum for marginalised people (a stream for the literate and one for the illiterate) and for colline leadership.
  • During 2014, LWF Burundi’s country strategy for 2009-2014 will be evaluated and an updated strategy for 2015-2020 will be developed.

Focus groups:
Activities are designed to improve village governance and management and provision of local services for whole communities. Particularly marginalised groups who are enrolled in the Empowerment Curriculum include returnees, widows, orphans and their guardians, handicapped people, landless or homeless people and Batwa (minority population).

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