Food for the Hungry has been working with refugees still recovering from years of ethnic and political civil war in Burundi – one of the poorest countries in the world (according to the UN: http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/BDI.html ). One community of Kirundo district particularly continues to suffer from the effects of that war and recently faced a severe food shortage such that the young and vulnerable were dying – over 79 in the last few months alone, many of whom were children. In response, FH worked with community leaders to bring much-needed food into Kirundo. Some of our staff who serve in the region were able to visit with two of the over 630 families who benefitted from FH’s support.
Mutabazi and Esperance Berchmans, a young couple with two children Nijembere (5) and Uwizayimana Janvier (2), are one of the families FH was able to serve.
FH asked them how the food distribution was helpful for them. Mutabazi, the husband, said:
“In reality, all my children were going to die before this distribution. Other organizations brought food into our village but my family were not targeted to receive it. Only old people and orphans received food from them. I grieve for my son, 8 years old, who died because of hunger. FH did well by listing all the families in this village. We received 14 kg of maize and 6 kg of beans. We use 1kg of maize and ½ kg of beans per day and we ate this for two weeks. It is a party in my family. For many months, I didn’t see that we could have two meals per day. As you can see, now we have good life. Unfortunately, today we have the last food of your distribution, my children are going to suffer again, and I’m obliged to go to Rwanda to search for food and it is very hard for me and for my wife who will feed the children after I come back.”
His wife Esperance added:
“One day before your organisation came to support us, I thought of leaving my children and going away because I was afraid that another child could die before my eyes. My husband was not aware of my thoughts; it was very hard to see my children asking for something to eat and not being able to get it. God bless your organisation, I don’t know how we can thank you, God only knows. Is it possible that FH will support us with seeds for the next season? For example, now we need sweet potatoes but we can’t get them. For the next season, we would like you to help us find vegetable seeds and land for planting them. Do you see – here we have nowhere to cultivate: it is a problem for us.”
FH talked with another family of six: the husband, wife and 4 children. When we visited them, the husband and two of the children were not at home. We found the wife (Mukantwari Edissa) and two children, Serieuse (4) and Manishimwe Elissa (10) at home and were able to visit with them.
Here are the words of Edissa:
‘’I have 4 children; imagine them all asking for food and you can’t see where to get it! My husband and I decided to go to Rwanda to find families who might take them in. While we were thinking about this, that same day FH came to our village. We abandoned our idea because after 2 days of listing households in the village, they brought food and my children were saved. We received 10 kg of beans and 22 kg of maize. We still have 3 kg of maize and 1 kg of beans left. We have had two weeks of happiness in my family, with two meals a day, since your distribution. Before, we often passed 24 hours without eating. Can you understand how hard it is for me with a child of 10 months? I cannot produce milk to give him and when this happens, he cries all night and he can’t sleep. Even if all the members of this village are not here to say it, they thank Food for the Hungry for thinking of our people who are dying of hunger. “