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  • Writer's pictureAfrinspire

Hope for Burundian Refugees

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

Unfortunately there has been a lot of conflict inside Burundi since 2015. This has led to a quiet genocide as the government has targeted one segment of the population particularly young men in the capital of Bujumbura. To avoid losing there lives many people have fled from the country, sometimes thinking that this was only for a temporary time but now finding it to be permanent exile.

A large number of urban-refugees have arrived in Mbarara in Uganda in the community around the Development Studies Centre which has been a major project of Afrinspire over the past 15 years. These refugees visited the Centre and as from November 2016 some English lessons were started, led by a refugee who was multi-lingual and speaking English.

We have been supporting the refugees in a three-part model. Firstly we are helping to tackle the language barrier through teaching English. Secondly, we are helping them gain skills to develop into micro-enterprises. One group is baking chapatis (flat bread) and mandazi (small, fried bread), whilst another process and sells cassava (a root vegetable) flour - a much-missed staple of the Burundi diet.

Thirdly we are helping them to maintain their cultural identity through drumming. For refugees,

the trauma and upheaval from their homes can impact their psycho-social development. It is important to provide many of the youth refugees with entertainment in the day as well as a way to associate with their culture. We have helped supply drums for their Kirundi Cultural Group. Burundians are well known for their drumming art in the region and these young people sought to use this opportunity to popularise their cultural practices. They hope to be hired to perform for local functions in the community such as weddings and graduations. Forming the groups has multiple purposes, giving them identity, income and helping them to integrate.

Theses are temporary costumes made from draping material of the correct colours as a start. It will cost £750 to provide 40 uniforms, 20 for drummers and 20 for dancers. The income from each performance they give will be £110.

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