The importance of education to children and adults living in war-torn Burundi

Since the early 1990s, civil war has claimed an estimated 300,000 lives in Burundi. Many years of war and instability have weakened the country’s economy, seen schools destroyed, and plunged families deeper into poverty. After a controversial presidential election and attempted coup in June 2015, violence is again on rise, and it is feared the country is spiralling into renewed conflict.

Thanks to your help, Bread and Water for Africa UK has been able to continue to bring hope to communities blighted by the fighting. Working alongside partner organisations such as the Centre for Aid and Protection of Children (CAPE) in Bujumbura, we are enabling generations of children and adults to receive the education and training that can change their lives forever.

A chance to earn a living

Providing vocational training to help women create new livelihoods is just one of the vital projects run by CAPE. Last October, we appealed for your support to fund a sewing workshop at CAPE. Thanks to your donations, construction of the workshop is progressing well, as you can see from the pictures here.

The sewing workshop will equip impoverished mothers with a practical skill and improved literacy abilities that will help them transform their lives. At the moment, many of these vulnerable women have no choice but to risk their lives begging on the streets. To make matters worse, their children are dropping out of school to join them.

New skills, new opportunities

With academic and practical skills to their name, these women will have the tools they need to turn their lives around. They will be able to earn a living from sewing, feed their children, and keep them in school to get the education that’s so important to their future.

To ensure this progress continues, we’re launching our Living Through Learning Fund. This new initiative will allow us to develop new community projects, provide more children with education and continue to offer adults the chance to learn the skills that can help them overcome poverty.

Education is vital at every age

The impact of education is far-reaching, and can even be seen in the health of a child. Studies show that the children of educated mothers are three times less likely to suffer from malnourishment. Being able to recognise signs of malnourishment. Being able to recognise signs of malnourishment means children are more likely to grow up healthy, free from illness and able to fulfil their potential. Of course, a healthy child is only able to flourish if they are not denied the opportunity to learn. Sadly, in Burundi, this is often not the case. More than a quarter of the country’s primary schools were destroyed in the war, and many teachers were killed.

In total, 62% of 15-24 year olds in Burundi have not completed primary education. Through their three Murakaza schools, CAPE is providing an education to some of the most impoverished children in northern Bujumbura. The schools are giving a whole generation of children refuge from the war, and donations to the Living Through Learning Fund will ensure this support continues throughout the troubles.

Over recent months, amidst escalating violence, the teachers and staff have been doing everything they can to support local families. Venceslas Katimba, a teacher at CAPE, explains, “It’s hard to stay calm with what is happening here in Burundi. Uncertainty is growing and the population is very afraid. For us, the only weapon we have is faith and hope.”

Sights no child should witness

As you can see from the drawings and quotes from students shown here, violence is an everyday reality for children in the Bujumbura area. Growing up in such traumatic times can have a terrible and long-lasting effect on children like Darlene, Raissa and Ralida. If it weren’t for the stability and sense of normalcy of the schools, they would be facing a bleak future and an even darker present. With your support, the Murakaza schools have continued to providechildre nwith a safe, caring and stable environment where they can not only learn, but also receive a meal every day. As Venceslas says, “We do our best to continue our pat h- teaching and comforting our children despite the very difficult situation we are going through.”

A fund for the future

By making a donation to the Living Through Learning Fund you will help us continue to fund educational projects in Burundi. You will allow us to pay for more training courses, and ensure that children continue to have the opportunity to attend school. In such uncertain times, the value of education has never been more clear to both adults and children in Burundi. Through training and education, more and more people will have the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty, improve their lives and bring about a better future for Burundi.

Living Through Learning Fund

We passionately believe that education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty in Africa. It’s central to everything Bread and Water for Africa UK do.

That’s why our Living Through Learning Fund is so important. We have made fantastic inroads in countries like Burundi, but to be a success these projects require long-term investment and the flexibility to respond to shifting circumstances and needs.

The fund will allow us to give ongoing support to these and other projects, giving children the start in life they deserve and helping more adults gain the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

So please consider donating to our Living Through Learning Fund through our secure online donation portal, and give children and adults in Burundi – and across Africa – the hope of a better future.