Why Burundi and the Batwa?
A group of people at First Presbyterian Bend was lead to the country of Burundi in East Africa as an answer to prayer and extensive research. We wanted to connect to a country in Africa that was in great need and underserved. Burundi rose to the top of the list due to being classified as the “hungriest” country in the world with its extreme poverty, history of genocide and civil war, inadequate infrastructure and political unrest. Taking it a step further, we learned of the Batwa, an indigenous people group in Burundi living on the edges of society. Through a partnership with African Road, a Portland, OR non-profit, and going on a learning trip to Burundi in 2015, we are now working with Evariste Ndikumana and his on the ground organization in Burundi, Hope for Batwa Youth, to come along side the three Batwa villages of Gahombo, Ndava, and Mwendo. This partnership was formed around the core beliefs of sustainability and local development.
A critical first step towards empowerment and dignity for the Batwa was obtaining National Identity Cards and becoming recognized citizens of Burundi with access to basic rights. As a result the adults in the villages are now able to legally marry, vote in elections, access medical care and legal justice and their children have birth certificates. The ID Card project was successfully completed in June, 2015, and was a significant first step towards sustainability.