Supporting the reintegration of most at-risk children and youth in Bujumbura

An example of good cooperation between child protection NGOs and community-based child protection mechanisms.

By Margaux Mathez-Loic
Fhadil and Hassan in their hairdresser shop, Buterere, Bujumbura.
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Margaux Mathez-Loic
04 December 2019

In Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city, UNICEF supports the synergy between protection actors to ensure vulnerable children have access to protection services such as psycho-social support; and school, family and professional reintegration opportunities.

Buterere, Bujumbura, Burundi - 17 and 18 years-old Fhadil and Hassan met when they were street children in Bujumbura. Fhadil dropped out of school when he was 10 because his parents couldn’t cover his basic needs. He took to the streets and started begging.  Hassan also dropped out of school in 2016 after his father’s death and started working in the Bujumbura market as a porter.

Fhadil and Hassan while experiencing similar struggles in life, became friends in the streets of Bujumbura. In 2018, they decided to reach out to a Drop in Center managed by local NGO GIRIYUJA with UNICEF’s support. They had heard that GIRIYUJA supported youth like them through vocational training and both wanted to follow their dream to become hairdressers. The duo began their four-months course in May 2019 and upon completion received support to start their own business.

Fhadil and Hassan in their hairdresser shop, Buterere, Bujumbura.
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Margaux Mathez-Loic
Fhadil and Hassan in their hairdresser shop, Buterere, Bujumbura.

A few months later, Fhadil and Hassan have started to generate profit, and their business is doing very well. Fhadil rents a small shared house, and Hassan proudlys support his mother every week with household expanses including school fees for his younger sisters.  Fhadil and Hassan have taken on another former street child as an apprentice and they hope they will be able to support more youth to learn their passion!

UNICEF has, with the Belgian National Committee funding, supported a multidimensional approach to ensure protection and reintegration services are available for most at-risk children.  In Bujumbura Mairie, where the number of school dropout and street children is particularly high, local NGO GIRIYUJA is one of UNICEF’s partner that supports these children to access vocational training, return to school and access income generating activities.

Giriyuja runs two Drop-in Centers in the capital’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, where children can access psycho-social support, counseling, recreation support and reintegration opportunities. Giriyuja has helped 600 children (260 girls and 340 boys) access formal schooling and 240 youth (83 girls and 157 boys) accessed vocational training.

Estella, 18 years old, is a recent graduate from a baking course offered by Giriyuja. With 4 younger siblings and a widowed mother, she used to dig in the city’s biggest dumpsite to support her family.  She was identified at the This is where Barnabe Kurubone a member of the local Child Protection Committee, met here and encouraged here to join the programme.

Estella became an independent baker, after having received training from  Giriyuja.
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Margaux Mathez-Loic
Estella became an independent baker, after having received training from Giriyuja.

My role is to identify the most at-risk children of the area. Lots of them come to the waste dump, so I go there several times a week to speak with the children and refer them to child protection partners. I identified Estella and brought her to the Giriyuja’s listening post because her future was gloomy, and she needed to be able to take new directions in her life. Now she is doing very well with her bakery!” 

 

Barnabe
Reintegrated children and vulnerable children accessing recreational activities at Giriyuja’s Drop in Center, Buterere, Bujumbura.
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Margaux Mathez-Loic
Reintegrated children and vulnerable children accessing recreational activities at Giriyuja’s Drop in Center, Buterere, Bujumbura.

By supporting community-based Solidarity Groups, UNICEF strengthens the socio-economic capacity of households to better respond to children’s needs, protect their children and strengthen reintegration processes.

Imelde Nibigira has benefitted from these solidarity groups. A mother of seven children, 3 girls and 4 boys, she lives very close to the Buterere waste dump. Because she was so poor, he was not able to ensure her children’s basic needs were covered, and as a result her son left the house, slept in the streets, and ended up working as a domestic worker for a year, before Imelde was able to bring him back home. As she could not afford school fees, her son earned a living from the garbage dumps from the age of 13 to 16. It is only after his mother Imelde reached out to Giriyuja listening point in January 2019, that she finally got support and managed to send him back to school.  To ensure a sustainable reintegration, Giriyuja collaborated with Faith in Action, another child protection actor, to include Imelde in a save and loan solidarity group. After three months, Imelde was already able to get a loan and start a small business of vegetables and selling charcoal. Imelde believes that her participation in the solidarity group will help her to cover all her children’s basic needs and better protect her children.

Mother Imelde selling her vegetable and coal and surrounded by some of her children.
UNICEF Burundi/2019/Margaux Mathez-Loic
Mother Imelde selling her vegetable and coal and surrounded by some of her children.