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Healing in Burundi

“Previously, I was ashamed and afraid to sit in the community. Today, as I am healed, I have no fear of going anywhere and sitting with others.”

All We Can worked in partnership with Union Chrétienne pour l’Education et le Développement des Déshérités (UCEDD) in Burundi, Africa, from 2011. UCEDD seek to promote the socio-economic integration of Batwa communities living in Muyinga and Karusi. As part of this seven-year partnership, All We Can supported UCEDD in setting up 40 ‘Self Help Groups’, helped more than 300 Batwa households to acquire ownership of the land they live on, farm their land, and increase their quality of life through access to medical care and literacy classes. Perpetue’s story is just one of many stories of transformation that resulted from this special partnership.

Before the death of her husband, Perpetue (now 73) worked in the fields to make a living. After his death her health condition deteriorated. At the end of each day she felt physically tired. Perpetue was able to rest, but rest did not change anything. She always felt fatigued and unwell.

When Perpetue was giving birth to one of her children, “it was there that the situation became worse; the doctors told me that my cervix tended to come out”, Perpetue said. This condition is known as Uterine Prolapse, or UP. A common condition globally, but one that can have a devastating impact on quality of life if untreated. After giving birth to her last child, one day in 2016 as she was carrying a child on her back, she felt as if something was going to come out of her, and experienced the prolapse of her uterus. It collapsed externally. After this happened Perpetue was unable to do any strenuous work at all, putting her in a very difficult position as a widow living in poverty with a family to support.

One day, UCEDD community workers, known locally as a ‘Community Relays’, visited Perpetue’s village. The Community Relays had information about how they could help people in difficulty. They approached Perpetue and she explained her illness. The Community Relay left telling her that they would share her situation and get help for her, “After a few weeks, I got the good news that the medical professionals would treat me and arrange to take me to Gitega hospital”, Perpetue said.

Community Relays are a critical link with the community in village’s like Perpetue’s. Community Relays are able to activate community awareness for the possibility to realise change for people like Perpetue. This is possible because they understand the real issues facing the communities they work in. Typical activities of a Community Relay include identifying people in distress, recommending people to a local centre that offers psychological support (assistance in decision-making, supportive counselling, peer support group, family reunion and legal assistance and guidance) where appropriate, and home visits. In Perpetue’s case, the Community Relays visited Perpetue’s household, initiated conversation with her, recommended that she should visit the local centre for support and monitored her recovery from surgery. Perpetue was also assisted by a specialist member of the UCEDD team at a local support centre, she was given help in ensuring she would get the correct surgery for her UP.

After being treated, my body became more flexible and I now have more cleanliness than beforeThey have helped me to be healed. Previously, I was ashamed and afraid to sit in the community [due to odour]. Today, as I am healed, I have no fear of going anywhere and sitting with others”.

Perpetue is just one of hundreds of people who have been supported over the years in Burundi through All We Can.

Thank you to everyone who made a life-changing difference in Burundi through their generous support.

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