In rural areas, in villages of Burundi few families have less than 9 children, boys and girls sharing a mat in small house of one room or two, with their parents. They live by agriculture in the arms around their homes, that is for the blessed family with parents alive.
Having passed the night on a mat together with his/her siblings – the Burundian child will fold the shared mat before undertaking some household chores. One child will fetch water from the valley; others will sweep the house inside and out and others will wash pots and pans.
Then, he will set out for school which will usually be situated 3-4 km away. He will be barefoot. Breakfast and even lunch is a luxury enjoyed by a few. From 7am to 1pm hunger pangs will be supressed due to the intensity of listening, writing and problem solving – all from the blackboard. Few schools have textbooks for all their pupils; often schools have to share the teachers’ books since the government has failed to invest enough money in materials whilst promising primary education to all.
To be able to attend school is considered a great blessing. School uniform which is compulsory for attendance will set Dad back two weeks’ wages. Naturally he will impress on his children the great opportunity that they have which may well not have come his way. It is a good performance at school which, almost alone, will win parental praise. Severe discipline awaits those who underperform.
On returning home, she will usually have to help her parents. This might be looking after cattle (which often keeps children from school) or cultivating the family vegetable plot from which might come and combination of beans, peaws, cassava, sweet and stantdard potatoes, carrots, cabbage and tomoatoes. It is this plot which provides food for the mal of the day. This will usually be beans and banana hash with perhaps some milk. Any extra being sold at the twice weekly village market. Fruit such as mangoes and pawpaw is a treat – usually acquired in the time-honoured manner of scrumping which – if discovered- is rewarded by Dad in the traditional way on the designated part of the body!
From a family of more than 8 children, parents died in social conflits, deseases or abandoned the family, children scattered in different parts, younger children in towns to work as house boy/girls before age of works. Mostly the 5-10years old are left in the hats, at home. At 5 years old, a village poor/orphaned child knows how to make fire and prepare his/her food.
These children survive and grow in amazing ways, THE WORK OF GOD
Such children, some of them live at 500meters from others neighbour houses, at two 2 or 3km from a school and church. They live by eating uncooked sweetpotatoes, banana, cassava, forest fruits and sleep in their hats until a brother or a sister who left to towns comes back. More than a half million of this kind of self cared children in the villages of Burundi.
These children have wounds on their hearts, these children have no love for anything or anybody neither have joy, hope does not exist for them. SONSHIP works to reach them, heals their wounds, restore the joy, bring sustainable solutions and offer them a priceless gift of education by sending them to school by creating around the volunteering parents without moving them from their lands except to the youngest whom Sonship takes to the orphanage or to the volunteering parents’ homes.