This article details the current struggles of Burundians seeking refuge in Tanzania. This Burundian refugee crisis adds to many in the last century caused by various atrocities including German and Belgian colonization, civil wars, and genocides.
Over the course of 2015, nearly 240,000 Burundian men, women and children have been forced to flee their homes because of political conflict and election-related violence. The situation inside Burundi continues to deteriorate, marked by targeted killings of opposition leaders. In addition to persecution because of political and social group affiliation, Burundians increasingly face food insecurity and environmental degradation as a consequence of civil unrest.
Week of Compassion is working with our partner, Church World Service, to respond to this emergency in various refugee camps, including Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania, home to more than 85,000 Burundian refugees. Every day more than 200 new Burundian refugees arrive by bus. All new refugees arriving in the camp sleep in mass shelters, each with a plastic roof and upwards of 150 people.
Some of the refugees described fleeing forced conscription into youth militias. Others explained how they were targeted, specifically because of their affiliation with a political party. Still others had been refugees for many years in the past, displaced yet again by the fear of widespread election violence in Burundi. With any number of reasons for flight, here they were seeking refuge in Tanzania, crammed together in a camp stretched far beyond its limits.
Through our partners, Week of Compassion has helped build the camp from the ground up and has worked to expand and improve infrastructure by building new latrines and shelters, providing water and sanitation facilities, and ensuring that the dignity of the refugees is restored and respected. Week of Compassion also supports implementing protection and psychosocial response activities, including community dialogues aimed at peaceful coexistence among newly arriving Burundians, longer-staying Congolese refugees, and the Tanzanian host communities.
Learning the stories of the Burundians you accompany through your support to Week of Compassion may forever change your life. Meet the couple in the video below, to hear firsthand what your involvement can mean to them.
Article information from CWS
Featured Video & Resources during Special Offering
What did you find most striking in the family's story?
At the end of the interview, the husband says: "may God continue to bless them so that in turn they can help other[s]." What does this quote say to you about compassion? What about generosity?
Map together this family's journey-Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, then The United States (Nebraska, specifically). Imagine what those moves may have been like.
What do you imagine could make you leave your home like the family in the video?
What things did you hear them expressing gratitude for?
With Children-(Note: the subtitles may be difficult for children to follow. If you choose to use this video with children, we suggest you summarize the family's story with the group either before or after watching the video.)
Use the Popsicle Stick House activity in the Special Offering Planning and Resource Guide (p.18). While you build, talk about the kinds of shelters kids saw in the video (the house behind the family in the photograph, the tents in the refugee camp, the apartment they live in now).
This video would work well as a Moment for Mission or call to offering.
(show the video before or during the receiving of the offering)
Call to Offering: Our gifts this morning provide hope to people in our neighborhood, in our country, and around the world. Give joyfully, and give generously.
Prayer of Dedication: Though your grace and by your inspiration, Gracious God, empower us to transform these gifts into shelter for those who are wandering, comfort for those who suffer, food for those who go hungry, and hope for those who despair. Amen.
Our Global Responses Since January 26th, 2016
Where you built relationships with struggling neighbors