Working with partner organisations who we know and trust, we are supporting healthcare projects in Burundi and Senegal, as well as schools and rehab projects in Kolkata, India.
Since we formed in 2003 our partner organisation in Burundi has been Rema Ministries, based in the capital, Bujumbura. Burundi is in East Africa and lies on the north-eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, sandwiched between Rwanda to the north, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west and Tanzania to the east.
SharingLife trustees met Theodore Mbazumutima, one of a small group of Burundian refugees in Nairobi who had a passion to help half a million of their compatriots get back home from refugee camps in East Africa after two genocides in the last 45 years. This group became Rema Ministries, and after a few years in Nairobi they moved back to Burundi as the Tanzanian Government started to empty the refugee camps.
We have been supporting Theo’s work with Rema, which has developed over the years from attending to social and medical needs in the camps to repatriation issues, followed by the building of the SharingLife Rema Clinic in Rutana province, where we are enabling a wide range of health education and treatment services to be provided.
Lately, Rema has broadened its remit into land justice and advocacy, and they are now collaborating with international NGO’s in conducting practically-based research, and are consequently able to influence their Government policy and get laws changed. This work has already helped large numbers of refugees get their land back, and a revision of a law which was silent on marriages conducted outside Burundi, will now mean that 50,000 women (and their children) will regain their legal status – and discourage many Burundian husbands from abandoning their wives in favour of a new relationship.
Currently Burundi is in a constitutional crisis, as the President used a legal loophole in the 2005 Constitution to secure a third term of office, and a popular uprising has been put down, although sporadic violence continues to break out. Presently, the African Union has sent in senior officials from neighbouring countries to try to broker a peaceful outcome.