There continues to be a great need in Burundi. Brought on the current political crisis and drought, 81.3% of Burundi’s population lives below the poverty line. As a result, over 680,000 orphans struggle to simply survive in Burundi. Poverty and lack of support for vulnerable families also contribute to a high percentage of child labor. 26.3% of children in Burundi are currently enslaved in child labor practices.
HOW WE’RE INTERVENING FOR ORPHANS IN BURUNDI
AGCI began working to intervene for orphans and families in Burundi in 2014. Due to the volatile political landscape, many NGOs have left Burundi and have yet to return. Support for this country is now more critical than ever. AGCI is working to identify the needs in Burundi and then work to meet them with our partners on the ground. We are currently working to elevate care and support families in crisis through the creation of two new contract positions—an Adoption Registry Position and a Shelter Income Generating Project Manager. While these positions are still in the planning phase, they would be instrumental in ensuring children are registered for domestic adoption and creating sustainable care to fund monthly orphanage expenses.
Our team recently traveled to Burundi where we met with the Central Authority. They shared with us that their goal is to further educate shelters in the adoption process and best childcare practices. To help address these needs, we’re partnering with the Central Authority to help shelters become sustainable so they can independently provide for the children in their care.
AGCI is currently partnering with shelters throughout Burundi to identify grass roots income generating ventures. These small businesses create sustainable funds for shelters so they can independently provide for the day-to-day food, shelter, medical care and education children need to thrive.
AGCI issued our first income generating grant to a shelter in Karusi that has since grown into a self-sustaining business! Not only does has the business succeeded in meeting the day to day needs of the home, it has also allowed the shelter to move into a new and improved building. We’re so excited for the opportunity to empower local shelters to improve their standard of care for children throughout Burundi.
AGCI has worked to transform orphans’ lives in Burundi since 2014. Our first three families brought their children home in the fall of 2016 and all waited between 1-9 months from completing their dossier to receive their referral! We believe that cost should never stand in the way, which is why our most recent adoptive families have received over $70,531 in adoption grants.
Additionally, AGCI is preparing to begin work with all shelters throughout Burundi to identify children eligible for adoption and prepare their paperwork for submission to the Central Authority. This expansion will allow more children to be placed for both international and domestic adoption so they have the chance to grow up in a loving forever family!
One of the challenges for organizations working to intervene for orphans in Burundi is a lack of data. It is not currently known how many children live in Burundi’s “shelters” or orphanages or even how many shelters exist at all. Our goal is to partner with Burundi’s Ministry of Solidarity to assess the number of shelters and the number of children in shelter care.
This work will help us better address the needs of children living in institutions and begin to understand which children are eligible for adoption or have existing birth families. Our ultimate goal is to create an infrastructure for a database of orphaned children in Burundi. This system will help us find more pathways to family for these children!