A Glimmer of Hope
Zamire arrived in one of the refugee camps in eastern Burundi in 2016 with her aunt, leaving her biological family in the Democratic Republic of Congo where she was living with both her parents, three brothers and one younger sister.
“I remember it like it was yesterday even though I was a little girl. When they attacked our neighborhood, I ran with my aunt and my cousins and I did not know the direction my parents had taken”, said Zamire,
Zamire and her aunt's family first joined other refugees in Cibitoke. After the procedures of applying for refugee status, they were placed in one of the refugee camps in eastern Burundi. Zamire obtained a separated child status but was still under the supervision of her aunt.
“When I arrived in the camp, I met other children there who had arrived some years before. I made friends, I started school but I didn't realize that my life with my aunt was going to become a nightmare". Zamire shared
Zamire was exposed various acts of violence in the family where she was living. Her aunt used to beat her and often did not give her food as punishment even though the family received food support from WFP during their time in the camp. Her Aunt would prevent her from going to school and was not allowed to speak about the situation.
When Save the children’s community volunteers got informed of Zamire’s case, she had already dropped out of school because. Following the physical and emotional abuse she was suffering, she had almost given up on her dreams of becoming a primary school teacher when she grows up.
The case was treated as a child protection case and to safeguard her best interest, the decision was to place her in one of the 10 voluntary foster families under the supervision and support of Save the children community volunteers. Zamire has been living with her foster family for 6 months now.
“Here in this host family, I was well received. I feel considered, I feel protected, I am very well here. I go to school and I like to learn French. My dream of studying quietly has now become a reality.” Zamire shared
Zamire actively participates in several activities organized by Save the Children, particularly in the awareness and prevention activities carried out in the camp, the recreational and educational activities organized in the Ideas box spaces.
Save the Children in Burundi has been working in in child protection and prevention and response to gender-based violence in refugee camps and in the urban area of Bujumbura since April 2021.
Since January 2022, in Child Protection program in refugee camps and in urban settings, Save the Children staff on the field has conducted 528 cases of Child Best Interest Assessment. Including, 149 cases of unaccompanied and separated children; held panels of Child Best Interest Determination for 68 cases, 75 additional cases of separated children identified and 28 cases of unaccompanied children.
“Save the Children’s volunteers and staff members visit us often. I thank Save the Children for giving me the chance to feel protected”, says Zamire with a smile.
By Entente Habib Dushime
Advocacy& Communication coordinator
SCI-Burundi Sub office