For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. (Matthew 25:35a)
The future continues to be uncertain and fear is widespread in Burundi. Tensions remain following the violence that erupted in 2015, and millions are struggling to find food while hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes.
In these challenging conditions Tearfund is still working with our partners to bring hope to those most in need. Before receiving assistance from Tearfund’s church partner (FECABU), Elsie*, a 39-year-old mother of seven, was struggling to feed her family. Her baby daughter, Gloria, was underweight and fell asleep all the time.
A daily challenge
Tearfund is receiving reports that many in Burundi face an ongoing struggle – life has many challenges for Elsie and thousands like her.
Massive budget cuts to essential services such as health and education mean hospitals are barely functioning. Accessing health care is difficult, especially for pregnant women and children who depend on free care.
Our partners and staff on the ground report that the most alarming challenge is lack of fuel and electricity in the country as this leads to increasing prices of all other items. People are experiencing limited access to food at the market as some food prices have doubled, even tripled.
Added to this is the fact that people displaced by the violence have not been able to plant, and any that have, face the challenge of a changing climate and failed harvests in the last two seasons. By the end of 2016, 4.6 million Burundians were facing severe food shortages in rural and urban areas, according to the UN.
Something to eat
Tearfund has worked in Burundi for over 20 years. The recent political turmoil has meant that more needs to be done for those most affected by the current situation. Tearfund, therefore, continues to support local churches and partners who are providing nutritious food for pregnant mothers and children like Gloria.
In Gitega Province, where Elsie lives, Tearfund’s partner FECABU has been implementing an emergency nutrition project, focused on malnourished children and pregnant or lactating mothers.
Elsie attended a feeding centre where Gloria was weighed and measured, and where Elsie joined other mothers to learn how to prepare a nutritious porridge to feed their children.
One person at a time
Tearfund is doing all it can in a challenging environment. The needs continue to grow, but churches and partners are ready to do more to help.
A person suffering from malnutrition is stigmatised in the community, so these projects not only restore health but also human dignity. People can participate in society again and children can go back to school.
‘Truly it is the grace that God has made for me,’ Elsie says. ‘Before she was admitted to this programme and started taking the porridge twice a day as recommended, I was having problems feeding her since she did not have any appetite. But now, she plays with other children without any problem. She eats whatever is given to her.’
For Elsie and Gloria, and the others at the feeding centre, this help is life-saving.
- Pray for the people of Burundi as they face each day that they would find comfort and courage, and that their needs would be met.
- Pray for Tearfund and all of the agencies working in Burundi and among the Burundian refugees in neighbouring countries, that they would have the resources to do their work.
- Pray for the situation in Burundi, that solutions can be found to the challenges facing the country.
*names have been changed to protect identities